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Highway deaths decline last year

Highway fatalities are a big issue in Georgia, because car accidents are a big issue. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates nationwide in 2013 there were 35,200 deaths from motor vehicle accidents. Terrifyingly, that is an improvement and a decline of three percent from the previous year.

This number may appear larger than traffic fatality numbers you may be familiar with, namely, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) death toll. The difference is the NSC's total is larger because they included deaths of those injured in car accidents that died within a year of the accident.

Moreover, this number may be the more accurate one, because NHTSA only records those who die within 30 days of the car or truck crash. But some injured drivers or passengers may linger for some time, suffering from their injuries, before they succumb.

In 2013, 3.8 million individuals suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents that necessitated medical care. Many of those injuries will be long-lasting, requiring extended stays in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

They may have to undergo repeated surgeries to repair the damage and reconstructive surgery to return them to some semblance of their former selves.

And they may carry some scars and chronic pain all the days of their lives, never again having a truly pain-free moment.

What is truly sad is that much of this is due to needless risk, from failing to use seat belts and driving drunk to texting on a phone, all of which are unnecessary and easily avoidable.

The price we pay for the more than 30,000 dead and nearly 4 million injured annually? About $267 billion. Every year.

Source:, "Is a dip in highway fatalities only a mirage?" Sean Kilcarr, February 12, 2014

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