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8 The research objective, as outlined in the original request for proposal, was to âprovide a multiÂ disciplinary analysis of the relative influence of the types of factors that contributed to the recent national decline in the number of highway fatalities and rates in the United States.â Between 2005 and 2011, peak to trough, the number of traffic fatalities in the United States declined by 11,031, from 43,510 in 2005 to 32,479 in 2011. This decline amounted to a reduction in trafficÂrelated deaths by 25.4%, by far the greatest decline over a comparable period in the last 30 years. Figure 1Â1 shows counts of annual traffic deaths from 2001 through 2012, the period that is considered in this project. The figure shows that the number of traffic fatalities remained relaÂ tively stable over roughly the first half of the period, from 2001 to 2007, varying from 42,196 in 2001 to 43,510 in 2005. There were 41,259 deaths in 2007, which is within the relatively narrow range observed for the preceding 6 years. The number declined to 37,423 in 2008 and continÂ ued to decline to reach a low of 32,479 traffic fatalities. The pattern in Figure 1Â1 suggests two processes. In the first part of the period, from 2001 to 2007, the number of traffic fatalities was relatively stable. The number averaged about 42,600, and varied by Â±515. In the second period, from 2008 to 2012, the number of fatalities dropped dramatically to 32,479 in 2011, a decline of 8,780 traffic deaths, or about 21% from 2007. The number of traffic deaths increased in 2012, and in fact, subsequent years have seen increases as well. At the time this report was prepared, the number of fatalities has climbed to 35,092 in 2015 (NHTSA 2016b). The goal of this project is to identify the factors that contributed to the substantial decline in traffic fatalities between 2008 and 2011. C H A P T E R 1 Statement of the Problem Figure 1-1. Traffic fatalities, 2001â2012.