The number of people killed in traffic crashes is expected to reach a new record low in 2008, with early projections showing an almost 10 percent drop in highway traffic deaths in the first 10 months of 2008.

New fatality data marks the first time the NHTSA is able to project fatality figures prior to the end of the calendar year. Using new electronic data gathering techniques, the Department of Transportation is working to make projections in near real time.

Early estimates show that 31,110 people died on the nation's roads from January through October, compared to 34,502 in 2007 during that same 10-month time period. In addition, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicles miles traveled for the first nine months of 2008 is 1.28, compared to 1.37 for 2007.

NHTSA intends to update 2008 estimates regularly as more data becomes available. The final counts for 2008 will be made available in the summer of 2009.

To view the preliminary fatality statistics: