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January 26, 1957


JAMA. 1957;163(4):262-263. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02970390038014

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A few weeks ago the newspapers carried headlines about the appalling new record of traffic deaths during the long Christmas week end. The emphasis on fatalities served to obscure certain other disconcerting facts.

Little publicity was given to the number of traffic injuries. It is estimated that 35 persons are injured for each person killed. Incidentally, there is some disagreement over the statistical validity of using fatalities as a method of evaluating results in traffic accident prevention. The continual advances in medical care result in recovery of a relatively higher percentage of the seriously injured, and improvements in automobile design must have had their effects in reducing the numbers of seriously disabled in the crashes that did occur. Assuming that these hypotheses are correct, the fatality total of 40,200 for 1956 indicates that the traffic accident situation is worse than it appears to be.

For years, some experts have found

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