Motor vehicle crashes are among the top 10 causes of death for U.S. residents of all ages and the leading cause of death for persons aged 5--34 years. In terms of years of potential life lost before age 65, motor vehicle crashes ranked third in 2007, behind only cancer and heart disease, and account for an estimated $99 billion in medical and lost work costs annually. Crash-related deaths and injuries largely are preventable. From 2000 to 2009, while the number of vehicle miles traveled on the nation's roads increased by 8.5%, the death rate related to motor vehicle travel declined from 14.9 per 100,000 population to 11.0, and the injury rate declined from 1,130 to 722; among children, the number of pedestrian deaths declined by 49%, from 475 to 244, and the number of bicyclist deaths declined by 58%, from 178 to 74.
These successes largely resulted from safer vehicles, safer roadways, and safer road use. Behavior was improved by protective policies, including effective seat belt and child safety seat legislation; 49 states and the DC have enacted seat belt laws for adults, and all 50 states and DC have enacted legislation that protects children riding in vehicles. Graduated drivers licensing policies for teen drivers have helped reduce the number of teen crash deaths.
Source: MMWR, 20 May 2011.
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