In 2008, traffic accidents killed 4,477 people, which is almost 10 percent less than the number of traffic fatalities in 2007, in which 4,949 people died. Compared to 1970, when German traffic fatalities peaked at 21,300, the deaths in 2008 show an 80 percent reduction.
Accidents were down overall, but only by 1.8 percent, the report said. Overall, police recorded 2.29 million accidents on Germany's roads, of which one in seven resulted in injury or death. Despite the improvement, Destatis President Roderich Egeler said there is still an average of 12 people who die in road accidents every day.
While deaths among young adults aged 18 to 25 years remains high, 2008 was the eighth year in a row when deaths in that age category shrank by almost nine percent, to 887 fatalities. Egeler credited a new policy that takes a zero-tolerance stance against alcohol consumption in young drivers, which has been in place since August 2007. In total, there were 19 percent fewer alcohol-related deaths on the roads.
The numbers are most impressive when compared to the statistical probability of dying in a traffic accident the last time the number of fatalities was so low in 1953. Today's roads are much more crowded than then, when 4.8 million cars were on the road, compared to today's fleet of 51.3 million. The risk of being in an accident today is 30 times higher than it was 55 years ago. For young adults, it's even higher.
Injuries were also down for the year – major injuries were down by 6.4 percent and minor injuries decreased by 4.9 percent. The ACE Car Club Europe attributed the drop in numbers to new car safety features and driver's assistance programs.
For the first time in many years, speeding was not the main cause of traffic accidents; however 38 percent of all traffic fatalities were attributed to excessive speed.