Washington, D.C. – Overall U.S. traffic fatalities in 2009 fell to their lowest level since 1954, declining for the 15th consecutive quarter. According to early projections, the fatality rate, which also takes into account the number of miles travelled, reached the lowest level ever recorded.

“This is exciting news, but there are still far too many people dying in traffic accidents,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Drivers need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their focus on the road in order to stay safe.”

The projected fatality data for 2009 places the highway death count at 33,963 people, a drop of 8.9 when compared to the 37,621 deaths reported in 2008. The fatality rate declined to 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled (VMT), down from 1.25 per 100 million VMT in 2008.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes the decline to a combination of factors, including high-visibility campaigns for seatbelt use and impaired driving, safer roads, safer vehicles, and motorists driving less.

Connect with Autos.ca