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Medical News & Perspectives
September 16, 2009

Studies Probe US Traffic Injuries, Deaths

JAMA. 2009;302(11):1159-1160. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1314

Even as a new report documents substantial progress in reducing motor vehicle crashes and fatalities in the United States, recent research suggests that thousands of additional injuries and deaths could be prevented by lowering speed limits and banning drivers from engaging in potentially fatal distractions, such as dialing or text messaging on cellular telephones.

According to a report released in July by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of traffic fatalities in 2008 reached its lowest level since 1961, when such statistics were first compiled. A second NHTSA report, also published in July, said that a 2007 survey monitoring weekend highway use recorded the lowest percentage of legally intoxicated drivers on the road since the agency's first survey more than 3 decades earlier. In addition to the curtailment of impaired driving, increased seat belt use, improved roadways, and safety-related vehicle features and design enhancements were cited as factors that contributed to reductions in motor vehicle crashes.

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