The most dangerous machine in modern America is the automobile:
- More than 33,000 Americans die per year in automobile accidents.
- This is despite the fact that the rate of fatal crashes per automobile mile driven has declined by two-thirds since 1975.
- One of the earliest safety innovations was putting a line down the middle of the road. Having a centerline on a road will cut crash frequency by at least 20 percent.
- Until the 1980s, seat belt use was only 10 or 15 percent; today, we’re up to about 86 percent. Seat belts reduce the risk of death by as much as 70 percent — at a price of $25 a piece. There’s one life saved in the U.S. for every $30,000 worth of seat belts installed in cars — versus one per $1.8 million for air bags.
- Over the last ten years, alcohol-related traffic fatalities have fallen by 28 percent.
- Younger drivers tend to be more dangerous. In 1980, 18 to 29-year-olds were 30 percent of the population. By 2000, that number was down to 22 percent.
- Driving in a city might seem dangerous, but wide-open stretches of rural road are three times more dangerous.
- Cell phones are a dangerous distraction, but they also save lives, by getting emergency personnel to the crash site much sooner.