I love a good graph, and I was happy to ponder this one for a long while. It really shows a lot of information, because it looks at more than one variable. From left to right, we have time, starting from 1950 to 2011, but it also shows a nose-dive starting at 1988 to present and some crazy loops and backward trends when it comes to miles driven per capita. What this fantastic graph shows is we are driving further, but more safely. A few things really piqued my interest:
There was a steep incline in deaths from 1961 to 1966. This was the era of muscle cars, and people had the income to buy them. Cars were more powerful, roads were being built and speed limits went up. We also started driving a lot more.
- In 1965 and 1966, there is pressure to make cars safer and legislation is passed to make seat belts mandatory in all vehicles.
- The little loop from 1977 to 1981 is when fuel was in short supply. People drove less and slower to increase their fuel efficiency.
- See that sharp decline in deaths in 1988? That’s when all states had set their minimum drinking age to 21 and we all started wearing seat belts.
- It’s easy to spot the years when gas was inexpensive. We drove more.