Car Accidents Deaths Decline in Major Cities: CDC Report

According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatalities caused by car accidents in major cities nationwide are on the decline, but crashes remain a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. 

Overall, the rate of auto accident deaths was 11.1 per 100,000 residents in 1999, according to the report published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). However, in the 50 largest metropolitan areas nationwide, the rate was only 8.2 per 100,000 residents.

In metro or rural areas, the fatality rate was higher among young people ages 15-24, but the rate was still lower in cities, the report found. The rate of deaths among young people nationwide due to auto accidents was 59% higher than the national average.

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All of the rates appear to be declining over time, the CDC indicates. However, rates of death were generally higher in southern states. The CDC suspects that this has something to do with the tendency of southern metro areas to involve more sprawl, with residents spread out over a wider area. This leads to more miles driven and a possible increase in the risk of having an accident, researchers said.

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs were attributed for part of the lower rates, particularly among youths. These programs place strong limits on teen drivers and increases requirement and age for getting an actual drivers license, and they have become increasingly more common in recent years.

The CDC also pointed to sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlock programs and other efforts to prevent alcohol impaired driving may be contributing to the drop.

Auto accidents used to be the leading cause of accidental fatalities in the United States, but they were surpassed last year by the increasing number of drug overdose deaths, primarily on the strength of prescription drug abuse numbers, which have skyrocketed in recent years.

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