July 24, 2007

U.S. reports lowest highway fatality rate ever recorded

Washington, D.C. – The number of people who died on U.S. roads fell last year, leading to the lowest highway fatality rate ever recorded and the largest drop in total deaths in 15 years. The announcement was made by Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.

“Tough safety requirements and new technologies are helping make our vehicles safer and our roads less deadly,” Peters says. “But we all must do more when so many are killed or seriously hurt on our roads every day.”

In 2006, 42,642 people died in traffic crashes, a drop of 868 deaths compared to 2005. The decline contributed to a historic low fatality rate of 1.42 per 100 million vehicle miles travelled. Most significantly, fatalities of occupants of passenger vehicles continued a steady decline to 30,521, the lowest annual total since 1993. Injuries were also down in 2006, with passenger car injuries declining by 6.2 per cent, and large truck injuries falling by 15 per cent.

Peters cautioned that alcohol-related fatalities rose slightly in 2006 over the previous year, while motorcycle deaths rose by 5.1 per cent. It is the ninth year in a row that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported an increase in motorcycle deaths.

NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason noted that in 2006, 15,121 fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator, pedestrian or cyclists who had a .08 or above blood alcohol concentration (BAC) compared to 15,102 in 2005.

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