August 23, 2006

U.S. highway fatality rate rises due to motorcycle and pedestrian deaths

Washington, D.C. – An increase in motorcycle and pedestrian deaths contributed to an overall rise in U.S. highway fatalities in 2005, according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The number of fatalities rose 1.4 per cent, from 42,836 in 2004 to 43,443 in 2005. The rate of fatalities in 2005 was 1.47 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled, up from 1.45 in 2004.

Despite the rise, Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino noted that the number of young drivers dying in car crashes declined in 2005 for the third straight year; the number of children killed in crashes also declined, with the largest drop for children ages 8 to 15.

“We have no tolerance for any numbers higher than zero,” Cino says. “Motorcyclists need to wear their helmets, drivers need to buckle up and all motorists need to stay sober.”

Motorcycle fatalities rose 13 per cent from 4,028 in 2004 to 4,553 in 2005; almost half those killed were not wearing helmets. The number of pedestrian fatalities increased to 4,881 in 2005 from 4,675 in 2004; NHTSA is investigating the increase to determine the cause. Cino said that the Department’s Federal Highway Administration is working with state and local governments to improve pedestrian safety, and that the agency is providing more than US$600 million over the next three years to help states develop pedestrian safety programs.

Among the findings, the number of young drivers killed ages 16 to 20 declined by 4.6 per cent from 3,538 to 3,374; fatal crashes involving young drivers declined by 6.3 per cent from 7,431 to 6,964; and the number of children up to age 15 dying in crashes dropped from 2,622 in 2004 to 2,348 in 2005.

The number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes declined 3.2 per cent from 2.8 million in 2004 to 2.7 million in 2005, while passenger vehicle occupant fatalities dropped from 31,866 in 2004 to 31,415 in 2005, the lowest level since 1994. The number of fatalities from large truck crashes decreased slightly from 5,235 to 5,212, while the number of occupants killed in rollover crashes increased 2.1 per cent, from 10,590 to 10,816. The number of SUV rollover fatalities dropped 1.8 per cent from 2,929 to 2,877. Data was collected from 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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