The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) of the United States has released a study that shows declining death rates for road accidents in the US are due to safer vehicles, not better drivers or improved roadways.

Influence of Vehicle Design Improvements

deathrates.gif
X-axis: Year, Y-axis: Driver deaths per million registered vehicles. Source: IIHS

The graph shows the actual rate of deaths in highway accidents from 1985 to 2004, and the hypothetical rate of death if cars now were still based on 1985 designs.

The hypothetical death rate was formulated through separating vehicle effects from other effects on auto accident death rates from 1985 to 2004, and with that data estimating what the death rate would be if people still drove the same cars they drove in 1985. Factors included into the estimation includes vehicle usage pattern as the vehicles aged.

Traffic environments in the USA have actually become more dangerous since 1994, but vehicles that are safer have helped offset the death rate. In the case of no vehicle safety improvements, death rates actually go up from 1994 onwards in the hypothetical situation.

I believe Malaysian lives are equally as important as American lives. Airbags. ABS. Crumple zone. Crash test results. These words have been repeated over and over again that it’s getting kind of tiring. The majority of the rakyat can only afford the Proton Saga if they need a bigger car than the affordable supermini alternatives (Naza Sutera, Perodua cars) that we have. Any MP reading this blog who wants to fight for our right to affordable and safe vehicles?

For more information on the study, read this PDF file.