The number of deaths related to motor vehicle crashes fell by 7 percent in the first half of 2009 compared to the first half of 2008
. According to a statistical summary by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crash fatalities were down to 16,626 in the first half of this year, versus 17,871 during the year-ago period.

Each quarter in 2009 also saw a drop in deaths from the 2008 quarters, with a 10 percent decline for the first quarter and a 4 percent decrease in the second quarter. The second quarter marks the 13th straight quarter of declines in traffic crash-related deaths in respect to the same quarter from the previous year. NHTSA says traffic fatalities have been steadily declining since 2005.

The number of vehicles miles traveled fell by about 6.1 billion miles, or 0.4 percent in the first half of 2009. In conjunction, the fatality rates dropped to 1.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 1.23 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the first half of 2008.