Good news. Overall, the Department of Transportation said alcohol-related fatalities fell 2.4 percent, from 17,105 in 2003 to 16,694 in 2004. 42,636 people died on the nation’s highways in 2004, down 248 – or 0.6 percent – from the previous year. Read a more complete summary of the data here.
There was some bad news. Motorcycle death rates increased for the seventh straight year. Rollover deaths also increased.
I would like to think that the tort system has contributed to a decline in the death rate. Highways and vehicles are safer in part because litigation has forced the issue with government agencies and manufacturers and brought problems to light. To be sure, consumer groups have also played a role in advocating for better roads and vehicles, but the tort system provides the economic incentive for people to do the right thing.