Washington, D.C. – Traffic fatalities in the U.S. dropped to their lowest levels ever in 2010, despite a significant increase in the number of miles Americans drove during the year. The number and rate of fatalities in 2010 was the lowest since 1949.

“Last year’s drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news and it proves that we can make a difference,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Still, too many of our friends and neighbours are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seatbelt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving, and encourage drivers to put safety first.”

According to early projections by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities fell three per cent between 2009 and 2010, from 33,808 to 32,788. Since 2005, fatalities have dropped 25 per cent from a total of 43,510 in 2005.

The same estimates also project that the fatality rate will be the lowest recorded since 1949, with 1.09 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled, down from the 1.13 rate in 2009. The decrease occurred despite an estimated increase of nearly 21 billion miles in national vehicle miles travelled.

The greatest drop in fatalities occurred in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, where they dropped by 12 per cent. The next steepest decline of 11 per cent was found in Arizona, California and Hawaii.

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