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Highway safety is improving. We think. Or maybe not. Or it depends on how old you are. The meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association discussed various highway safety issues, but for one writer, the odd nature of the up and down number of fatal accidents was the most notable feature.

Generally, the numbers during the last decade have improved in both Texas and the U.S., but last year traffic fatalities from car accidents began to increase for the first time in seven years. The decrease had been more than 25 percent from 2005 to 2011, so the increase of five percent during 2012 was not good news.

But during 2012, the rate of the increase was slowing, and projections for 2013 seem to suggest that fatalities during the first quarter have decreased. This seem to be better news, but not if you are a worker older than age 65, as a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that their rate of fatal car accidents is three times that of workers age 54 and younger.

The National Safety Council's John Ulczycki suggests that, oddly enough, it may be due to ingrained habits of older drivers cellphone use. While we often consider distracted driving caused by texting or other uses of cellphones to be a problem of young drivers, he argues that older workers may be senior managers of businesses and that they are used to always being on a phone.

Once habits become ingrained, it can be very difficult to change them, which is why it is necessary to create a "culture change" to effectively alter behavior. Older drivers may also be overconfident, blinded by success bias, where they extrapolate that because they have not had an accident in the past, they will not have one in the future.

Many of the 34,080 fatalities from last year may have believed that, but they also demonstrate it only takes one accident to end your life. 

Source: Fleet Owner, "Culture change and highway safety," Sean Kilcarr, August 30, 2013

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