Do Auto Safety Standards Save Lives?

On Tuesday the 26th I posted about a NHTSA report on traffic safety.   I saved for today a reference to what the organization believes is a major cause of the decrease in deaths and injuries in motor vehicle cases:   safety regulations and programs imposed by state and federal governments.

Here is a summary of the findings on this point:

The long-term declining trend observed in fatalities since reaching a high in the early 1970s has occurred while significant vehicle and occupant safety regulations and programs were being enacted by NHTSA and the States. NHTSA-administered behavioral and vehicle safety programs, both in the crashworthiness and crash avoidance areas, and through the issuing of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards has contributed tremendously to the long-term downward trend seen in motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities. In 2008, an estimated 244 lives were saved by the use of child restraints, 13,250 lives of people 5 and older were saved by seat belts, 2,546 lives of people 13 and older were saved by air bags, 1,829 lives were saved by the use of motorcycle helmets, and 714 lives were saved by minimum-drinking-age laws (NHTSA, 2009). Significant life-saving vehicle technologies like electronic stability control (ESC) have begun to penetrate the vehicle fleet. NHTSA estimates ESC would save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and prevent 156,000 to 238,000 injuries in all types of crashes annually once all light vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC (NHTSA, 2007).
These findings are something we must consider as we see a push to rollback the regulation of motor vehicle and other industries.