DOT assessment shows lowest traffic fatalities in six decades

Traffic fatalities are at their lowest overall level since 1950, according to a report (.pdf file) released Thursday from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The report, which is based on 2009 Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, shows the overall number of traffic fatalities fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to a record low of 33,808. In 1950, 33,186 motor vehicle traffic crash deaths were recorded.

Additional data shows:

  • The number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 declined for the 10th straight year, down 5.5 percent from 2008.
  • Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in crashes declined by 7.4 percent in 2009.
  • The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled fell to a record low of 1.13 in 2009.
The Governors Highway Safety Association issued a press release applauding the progress and attributed it to increased safety belt use, stronger enforcement of drunk driving laws, better roads, safer vehicles, and an increasingly well-coordinated approach to safety among state stakeholders and the federal government. Washington-based GHSA also credited the success to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's focus on preventing distracted driving.

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