Traffic deaths on the nation's roads fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2010 to 32,788, the lowest level since 1949, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The decline — down 3.2 percent from 2009 — came despite a significant rise in the number of miles Americans traveled last year, according to early projections. Americans drove about 20.5 billion miles more in 2010 than they did the year before, the agency said.
However, three areas of the country, including New England and the Midwest, saw an increase in fatalities. They were up 18 percent in New England and 3.9 percent in the Midwest, which includes Michigan. Final figures will be released this summer but typically don't deviate much from the projections. NHTSA believes weather may be to blame for the rise.
NHTSA estimates the 2010 fatality rate will be the lowest recorded since 1949, with 1.09 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from the 1.13 in 2009.
"The decrease in traffic fatalities is a good sign, but we are always working to save lives," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "NHTSA will continue pressing forward on all of our safety initiatives to make sure our roads are as safe as possible”.
Despite the decline, NHTSA pointed to an area of concern: traffic deaths, the agency said, were up nearly 2 percent in the second half of 2010 as drivers logged more miles.
[via The Detroit News]
Photo courtesy of Sean McGrath and re-used under the Creative Commons license.