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Red states have higher traffic death rates than blue states

November 20, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • One person was killed in this crash involving a school bus and a speeding Cadillac in Adelanto in 2007. California's fatality rate from traffic accidents is among the lowest in the country, according to a report by FairWarning.org.
One person was killed in this crash involving a school bus and a speeding… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Red state voters are more likely to die in a traffic accident than blue state voters.

That’s the finding of FairWarning.org, an online, nonprofit publication that does public interest journalism.

“The 10 states with the highest fatality rates all were red, while all but one of the 10 lowest fatality states were blue. What’s more, the place with the nation’s lowest fatality rate, while not a state, was the very blue District of Columbia,” FairWarning said in an article published Tuesday.

It noted that the blue Massachusetts had the lowest rate among the states, with 4.79 road deaths per 100,000 people. Red Wyoming had a fatality rate of 27.46 per 100,000.

California had 7.27 road deaths per 100,000 people, the eighth-lowest rate of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

FairWarning defines a red state as one that voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the recent election and labeled the ones that went for Democratic incumbent President Obama as blue. It examined federal traffic death statistics for 2010.

The safety experts interviewed by FairWarning could not provide a specific reason why traffic death rates in red states were worse than blue states.

Red states do tend to be rural with wide-open spaces. People could be driving more in those states because they have less traffic or people could be driving at faster speeds, which makes collisions more dangerous.

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Another factor could be seat belts. Just 85% of the people in the South use seat belts, the lowest rate of any region of the nation, according to a study this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The figure was even lower,  80% last year. Southern states make up half of the worst 10 states for traffic deaths in the FairWarning article.

The Western U.S. --- including low traffic death rate states California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii -- has the most seat belt use at 94% of occupants, up from 93% last year. The national average for seat belt use is 86%.

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