Motor vehicle death rates are on the decline, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it’s not a result of drivers’ increased caution.

A recent IIHS study, “Trends Over Time in the Risk of Driver Death: What if Vehicle Designs Had Not Improved?” shows that designs of passenger vehicles have been improving and becoming more occupant-protective for years. The study’s main finding indicates that without these improvements, the motor vehicle death rate per registered vehicle would have stopped declining in 1994 and started increasing.

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