WASHINGTON — Deaths from traffic accidents have dropped dramatically over the last 10 years, while firearm-related fatalities rose for decades before leveling off in the past decade, a USA TODAY analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
Meanwhile, the rate of firearms deaths has exceeded traffic fatalities in several states, including Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Michigan, Nevada and Oregon, records show. The rate is equal in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Proponents of gun control say the converging death rates are due to better safety regulations for cars, while there has been little regulation, education or research on gun fatalities, said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center.
Public safety research data generated since the 1960s spurred "a whole host of strategies," including safer highways and vehicles, graduated licensing programs and drunk-driving prevention.
"We're now seeing how successful that has been," she said. "We have not applied these lessons to firearms, and now we're paying the price."