April 6, 1984

Deaths decline, but drunk driving, other traffic safety hazards remain

JAMA. 1984;251(13):1645-1647. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340370003001

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At least 42,500 persons were killed in traffic accidents in the United States during 1983.

That many deaths must be placed in some kind of perspective: This preliminary figure for 1983 approximates the entire number of American ground forces personnel—US Army and Marine Corps members— killed during approximately a decade of war in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.

Still, and this is something of a surprise in view of a preliminary toll that exceeds 42,000, the 1983 figure is the lowest in 20 years. What's more, says the US

Department of Transportation, the 1983 accidental death rate appears to be 2.6 per 100 million miles of vehicular travel. If late reports don't change that rate, it will be the lowest fatality rate ever recorded for traffic in this country.

It previously has been pointed out by the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs that there has been