The 2009 traffic fatalities statistics will not be out until the middle of 2010. These are issued by FARS, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So please allow me to review some of the statistics from 2008.

The total traffic fatalities in the United States during 2008 were 37,261 which was a reduction of 3,998 over the previous year. This represents the lowest traffic deaths in the past 15 years. Each year over that same 15 year period the fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has dropped from 1.73 to 1.27.

The only category that showed a significant rise in fatalities was motorcyclists.

The top link at the Blogroll on right in this blog gets you to these statistics.

I speculate that there are 2 major reasons for the overall reductions. The first is that cars are safer. More people are driving newer and safer cars and more occupants are using their seatbelts. The second reason is that the drunk-driving laws are being more heavily enforced.

Be safe out there. If you have not taken a defensive driving course in some time (5-10 years) find one and take it. Senior Citizen centers offer them, often for free or a very low price. You can always learn something at one of these courses. About 2 years ago I took the one offered at my local Senior Citizen center. It was a great refresher for me. I did make a couple changes in my habits because of what I learned in the course.

Did I say: Be safe out there? If you think the other driver will do something stupid to put you in jeopardy, he or she probably will. Not every time, but often enough to be a potential crash.

I’m sure some journalist will keep track of this. I speculate that you will be able to tell where the favors went by who hires the staffers. For example:

Mr. Bush is about to have published in the Federal Register new rules regarding regulation of endangered species. Who benefits from this? You can bet the farm that someone outside the scientific, environmental, and nature preservation communities is benefiting. And who will collect the perks from those who benefit; who else but the people within the Bush Administration who will be looking for new jobs in a couple months. That’s what I think.

Here is a quote from the web site of the US Department of Interior: “Pledging to work with wildlife conservation agencies and bird conservation groups across the nation, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne has unveiled a Presidential initiative to halt and reverse the dramatic decline in U.S. wild bird populations.” This web page is dated Thursday, November 20, 2008. That’s today.

A “Presidential Initiative” indeed! Just as the President is about to limit and reverse some of the most successful conservation laws in the world, we have to read this ridiculous statement from our government. Is it going to be conservation or is it going to the special interests that care nothing for our wild flora and fauna?

In around 1970 there were around 30 nesting pairs of American Bald Eagles present in Oregon. Now there are around 500. This occurred because of conservation programs that occurred in our country and Canada. The Bald Eagle has been removed from the endangered species list because of this successful conservation. Within the city limits of Hillsboro, Oregon, in the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, a pair of Bald Eagles has produced 11 offspring in 9 years. This is only one of the many success stories around our country.

What will Mr. Bush’s initiatives do to future conservation? We will see. News reporters will let us know if these rules are published tomorrow. Then we will have more information about how our departing President is trying to undo years of beneficial conservation and the possibilities of future conservation.

In my last post I quoted from Mr. Obama’s official transition web site. One of his agenda items is to “fix education.” Here is the link to the site.

I want to make it clear that I don’t think any “fixing” is needed in the school district where I live and where my oldest grandson is in first grade.

The Hillsboro, Oregon, school district doesn’t need fixing. It works just fine. There are always changes in the air and the management of the district at all levels needs to be ever vigilant to maintain the high standards, continue to hire excellent teachers, and make improvements through changes.

Hillsboro School District is not like the Dallas Texas Independent School District which has to be one of the worst managed in our country. They have so mismanaged their finances that they have had to lay off teachers because lack of funds to pay them. Hillsboro is no Dallas.

Now if the incoming federal administration will do its job and make wise choices and decisions about their role in our education system, the education of our children can be even better. With the Obama administration coming into office, hopefully some of the bad choices that were implemented by the federal government in the expiring administration will be reversed. We don’t want curriculum dictated from the top.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the local school districts and the States need to have the most control over how we educate our children. This cannot be dictated from the top, the “federal” top. Let our school leaders, administrators, school boards, principals, teachers, parents, and others at the local level run the show. They are doing fine, at least here in Hillsboro. Let us give them all the support we can, and be ever vigilant over the actions of the federal government so it gives appropriate support but not micro-management from the top.