Interesting stats, Voyager. I admit my preconception was along the lines of this:
When I used to drive a classic car, my understanding was that the biggest improvements were lap/shoulder belts, and collapsible steering columns. I readily acknowledge improved crumple zones and air bags, but I wonder “how much safer” those have made cars.
According to the table you posted, fatalities have reduced approx. .4 per 100 mllion VMT. While that IS a reduction (and is certainly significant to those .4 people!), it was reduced 5x as much over the previous 20 years.
Moreover, the table shows an INCREASE over the most recent 3 years, and no apparent consistent reduction since 09. What’s up with that? My personal thought is that at least some of the safety alerts and buzzers are a distraction, and may cause drivers to pay less attention, figuring the car is looking out for them.
As others have said above, I imagine cars overall are cheaper, as safety devices which were previously offered only on luxury models, are now standard on all cars. But, depending on how you look at it, driving is either one of the safest - or riskiest - activities we all engage in. On the one hand, we all hop in cars regularly, and speed along, often essentially on autopilot with myriad distractions - surrounded by others doing the same. And we generally make it to our destinations safe and sound.
On the other hand, I am often bemused when people/legislators talk about reducing some minute risk in some consumer product, which is far less risky than the driving we take for granted.