Safety & Compliance

Highway Fatalities Lowest Ever Recorded

April 03, 2011

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Despite Americans driving nearly 21 billion more miles last year, U.S. highway traffic fatalities dropped 3 percent from 2009 to the lowest levels in recorded history. The fatality rate also dropped, to 1.09 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Friday that it estimates 32,788 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2010, a decrease of about 3 percent from 2009. It's the fewest number of deaths since 1949. Since 2005, highway deaths have fallen about 25 percent.

"Last year's drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news, and it proves that we can make a difference," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first."

Experts offer a number of likely reasons, including technology such as vehicle rollover protection and increased use of air bags in cars, as well as educational efforts to do things such as increase the use of seat belts and decrease distracted driving and driving while intoxicated.

Read more from NHTSA here.

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