The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday that the number of overall traffic fatalities reported at the end of 2009 reached the lowest level since 1954, declining for the 15th consecutive quarter. According to early projections, the fatality rate, which takes into account the number of miles traveled, reached the lowest level ever recorded.
“This is exciting news, but there are still far too many people dying in traffic accidents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Drivers need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their focus on the road in order to stay safe.”
The fatality rate for 2009 declined to the lowest on record, to 1.16 fatalities per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), down from 1.25 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2008.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributes the decline in 2009 to a combination of factors including, and high visibility campaigns like Click It or Ticket to increase seat belt use. In addition, the decline is also the result of safer roads, safer vehicles and motorists driving less.
NHTSA annually collects crash statistics from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to produce annual reports on traffic fatality trends. The agency intends to update 2009 estimates regularly as more data becomes available. The final counts for 2009 will be made available in the summer of 2010. To view the preliminary fatality statistics visit: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811291.PDF
Photo courtesy of Robbie Howell under the Creative Commons License