Overall U.S. Traffic Fatalities Reach Record Low, DOT Reports
July 9, 2009

Overall traffic fatalities reported in 2008 hit their lowest level since 1961, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In addition, the DOT reported that fatalities in the first three months of 2009 have continued to decrease as well.

A total of 37,261 highway deaths were reported in 2008—down 9.7 percent in 2007. In addition, the fatality rate, which accounts for various factors such as how many miles were traveled, also was down 7 percent; it was calculated at 1.27 persons per 100 million vehicle miles driven for 2008, compared with 1.36 for 2007.

The DOT also reports numbers by type of vehicle, and found that there were declines in both passenger car occupant fatalities along with light-truck occupant fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities, however, were up—accounting for 14 percent of all highway deaths.

Highway Fatalities for 2007 and 2008

Description 2007 2008 Change Percent Change
Passenger Vehicles 29,072 25,351 -3,721 -13 percent
Large Trucks 805 677 -128 -16 percent
Motorcycles 5,174 5,290 +116 +2.2 percent
Pedestrians 4,699 4,378 -321 -6.8 percent
Cyclists 701 716 +15 +2.1 percent
Other/Unknown 158 188 +30 +19.0 percent
Total 41,259 37,261 -3,998 -9.7 percent

Continuing the downward trend, an estimated 7,689 highway deaths have been reported for the period of January-March 2009-a 9-percent decline from the same period a year ago. It was the twelfth consecutive quarterly decline. The fatality rate for the first quarter of 2009 is calculated at approximately 1.12 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

"While the number of highway deaths in America has decreased, we still have a long way to go," says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Though 47 U.S. states also saw decreases in highway fatalities from 2007, Alaska reported the biggest percentage drop—down 24 percent from the prior year from 82 to 62.

Delaware, Vermont and Wyoming all saw their highway deaths increase—with the largest increase seen in Vermont. Vermont reported 66 highway fatalities in 2007, compared with 73 in 2008—up by 11 percent.

CLICK HERE to view the entire report, along with a state-by-state breakdown.

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