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Amber Wheat
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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Statistics

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Very, very interesting stuff. Their website has many different statistics, guides, and safety curriculums. Thanks to a post by Beth Janicek, my attention was brought to the 2007 reports on traffic accidents and fatalities.

Now, I used to be a math dork in highschool and I guess that’s something you don’t grow out of because I am having a blast with these numbers. Here are some interesting (at least to me) facts about California.

1. California had the most pedestrian fatalities last year. A total of 640. But our pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people living in the state was only 1.75, whereas the national average is 1.49, so really that means only 1 more person out of every 400,000 people die in California than compared to outside of California. So it isn’t necessarily more dangerous to be a pedestrian in California, there’s just more people in California. (The District of Columbia has the worst percentage with 3.23 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people.)

2. California had the second most motorcycle rider fatalities last year with 495 people losing their lives. Who had more? Believe it or not… Florida! I was surprised but when you look at the percent of fatalities that were not helmeted, it becomes very clear. In California only fourteen percent of those who died were not wearing a helmet at the time. In Florida forty-eight percent (48%), nearly half, were not wearing helmets. If they had been… would they still be alive today? On the table you can see a direct correlation between the number of fatalities and the percentage of riders not wearing helmets. John said it before and I’ll say it again, wear a helmet, save your life!

3. California had the second most fatal crashes involving large trucks (or big rigs). We had a total of 361 big rig involved fatalities last year, but that is not so bad considering we had 5,503 total vehicles involved in fatal crashed. Only 6.6 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in California were with big rigs. Thirty-seven states had higher percentages! So chances are, if you are involved in a fatal crash in California (heaven forfend), it will not be with a big rig.

4. Sadly, California did report the greatest number of fatalities among children under the age of fourteen. We lost 195 children last year, most of them between the ages of eight and fourteen. Texas comes in second with 176 and Florida comes in third with 114. Still, based on our population, we aren’t doing that bad.

It is all terribly interesting and I encourage any math minded people out there to check out the statistics. But it is also sad to think about. Luckily there is good news. Overall, in the whole United States, fewer pedestrians died last year than in 2006, fewer fatal accidents involved big rigs, and there were fewer child fatalities. So overall, we’re getting better.

Driving on our highways will never be perfectly safe, but we can make decisions that will hopefully lower the number of fatalities. Remember to drive defensively, always leave a safe following distance, be patient, and if you motorcycle wear a HELMET! One thing to point out is that motorcycle fatalities increased this year, but I attribute that to the rise in gas prices and the fact that more and more people (not always with the best experience) are choosing to ride motorcycles.

Be careful out there!