Your chances of walking away unharmed from a car crash increased from 79% in 2000 to 82% in 2008 thanks to safety improvements incorporated in model year 2000 to 2008 vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to the NHTSA report, An Analysis of Recent Improvements to Vehicle Safety, the new safety features in vehicles made since model year 2000 helped save 2,000 lives and prevented one million occupant injuries in 2008 alone.
"Our study finds remarkable improvements to vehicle safety," states the report. "We estimate that improvements made after the model year 2000 fleet prevented the crashes of 700,000 vehicles.
While the DOT says American drivers have been logging more miles lately, traffic deaths have steadily declined, falling to 32,885 in 2010 -- the lowest level in 60 years. NHTSA credits vehicle designs that better account for human, environmental and roadway hazards for many of the saved lives.
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"Between better safety practices developed at the Department of Transportation and improved designs by automakers, we are making real progress protecting drivers and passengers nationwide," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a press release. "We celebrate the historic decline in deaths and injuries on our roads as we remain laser-focused on continuing to improve safety."
In fact, says the NHTSA report, the likelihood that you will even be involved in a crash in 100,000 miles of driving has decreased from 30% in a model year 2000 car to 25% in a model year 2008 car.
"We expect this trend to continue as automakers add advanced safety features to their fleets and continue to improve vehicle designs to earn top safety ratings under our newly updated 5-Star crash-test program," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator. "Safer cars, along with safer drivers and roads, are key components in ensuring the annual number of traffic fatalities remains on a downward trajectory."