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Accident death rate drop in other nations bests that of the US

The number of traffic accident fatalities in Pennsylvania and around the country fell by 31 percent between 2000 and 2013, but this may not be a cause for much celebration according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 6. Researchers from the CDC found that 19 developed nations such as Japan, Canada and Sweden had done a far better job than the United States of reducing motorist, pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates.

The researchers studied accident data provided by the U.N. and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the 19 nations they studied reduced road traffic accident deaths by an average of 56 during the period studied. American lawmakers and road safety advocates may be wise to pay close attention to what their Spanish counterparts are doing. Road fatalities in Spain fell by more than 75 percent between 2000 and 2013.

The CDC report concluded that if road safety advances in the United States had kept pace with developments in Europe and elsewhere, more than 18,000 Americans who lost their lives on the nation's roads between 2000 and 2013 would still be alive today. The report urges lawmakers to reduce permissible blood alcohol levels from .08 percent to .05 percent or lower and clamp down more severely on drunk driving. The researchers also recommended a renewed push to encourage Americans to fasten their safety belts before embarking on even short trips.

While some negligent motorists are taken off the road by arrest and incarceration, many others are persuaded to act more responsibly by the fear of soaring insurance premiums or the prospect of losing their auto coverage altogether. Lawsuits are often filed against auto insurance companies by personal injury attorneys seeking compensation for accident victims who have suffered catastrophic injuries, and these companies may charge prohibitive premiums or deny coverage completely to those with a history of impaired or reckless driving as a result of this litigation.

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