NHTSA: Safer vehicles have saved 600K lives


Photo: Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock/Thinkstock

Washington – Improvements in vehicle safety technologies saved more than 600,000 lives from 1960 to 2012, according to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More recent technologies have proved to be especially effective, NHTSA said. The most advanced technology in 1960 – lap belts – saved 115 lives a year. By 2012, the number of lives saved annually had increased to 27,621 because most vehicles were equipped with a variety of safety systems and use of safety belts had climbed to 86 percent.

Four key factors helped the fatality rate of occupants of cars and light trucks drop 81 percent from 1960 to 2012, according to NHTSA:

  • Technologies such as safety belts, air bags and electronic stability control
  • Safer roads and accompanying improvements, such as guardrails
  • Laws and programs to combat drunk driving and other unsafe driving behaviors
  • Breakthroughs in medical care, along with faster arrival of emergency medical services

NHTSA said public feedback on the report is welcome. Comments are due June 9, and may be submitted by visiting and entering docket number NHTSA-2014-0103 into the search bar.