For the first time ever the number of Indiana drivers killed in traffic crashes was fewer than the number of Indiana citizens killed by gun violence.

The study released this week by the Violence Policy Center of Washington D.C., using data from the Centers for Disease Control, shows that Indiana is one of only 10 states where there were more gun deaths than traffic deaths in 2009. The other states that have that dubious distinction are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

In Indiana hunting and gun ownership are very high among citizens. The National Rifle Association and the gun rights lobby both have high membership in the state. This does not mean that Indiana is an unsafe place to live, however, but rather that efforts at increasing driving safety are having an effect.

According to the VPC report Indiana had 735 gun deaths reported in 2009 (the most recent year such data was available). During that same time period, 2009, there were 715 people who died in motor vehicle accidents. The report said that Indiana bucks the national trend where 31,000 deaths by firearms were outpaced by the 36,000 traffic related fatalities during the same time period.

It is difficult to make any sort connection between these two statistics because the details of each individual matter greatly. But it is clear that Indiana seems to be doing a better job at educating drivers about traffic safety because traffic related fatalities state wide are lower. This success has been the result of efforts by local and state police; increased patrols and an increased emphasis on driver safety.

In the final analysis, however, even one death from other of these things is one too many. The responsibility for using either a car or a firearm rest solely with the person using them. Carelessness with either can have tragic and long lasting results.