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Fewest traffic fatalities in Michigan since the 1940s.

Car rear ended another car in Ann Arbor.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Each recession has one upside: fewer traffic accidents. But since 2008 it's also meant a lot fewer traffic crash deaths.

While doing some research for a story, I went back over some data issued by the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information last May. 

It might not be surprising that the number of traffic crashes is lowest during years of a down economy.  After all, there’s less commercial traffic and there are fewer people driving to work because so many are unemployed. 

Starting in 2008 when the most recent recession began, the number of crashes began falling in Michigan.  By 2010, we had the lowest number of crashes we’ve seen since 1963.

Even more astounding, for the last three years the number of traffic crash deaths has been fewer than 1000.  You have to go  back to 1943 before you find fewer than 1000 traffic fatalities in Michigan.  Part of the reason is due to fewer traffic accidents overall, but adding to it is that airbags, seatbelts and improved safety engineering in cars better protect passengers.



1943               992

2008               980

2009               871

2010               937



1963               261,794

2010               282, 075


The worst year for traffic crashes since the state began keeping records in 1943 was 1996 with 435,477 crashes.

The worst year for traffic crash deaths was 1968 when 2,392 people were killed on the road.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.