Highway Deaths Decline 9.7% to 60-Year Low, U.S. Says

The number of people killed on U.S. highways fell last year to the lowest level since 1950, the Transportation Department said, crediting seat-belt use and campaigns to combat drunk-driving for the decline.

Fatalities in motor-vehicle crashes in 2009 fell to 33,808, a 9.7 percent decline from a year earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today in a statement. The decrease came as people in the U.S. drove 0.2 percent more than the year before.

The death rate fell to 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008, the agency said.

“Today’s numbers reflect the tangible benefits of record seat belt use and strong anti-drunk driving enforcement campaigns,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in the statement. “But we are still losing more than 30,000 lives a year on our highways, and about a third of these involve drunk driving.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

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