Washington, D.C. – The number of people killed on U.S. roads dropped again in 2007, reaching historically low levels, along with a significant decrease in drunk driving-related fatalities, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.

Peters said that in 2007, the overall number of traffic fatalities fell to 41,059, the lowest number since 1994. In addition, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles travelled was 1.37, the lowest rate on record. The 2.49 million people injured in highway crashes last year was the lowest number recorded since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began collecting injury data in 1988.

“Thanks to safer vehicles, aggressive law enforcement and our efforts, countless families were spared the devastating news that a loved one was not coming home last year,” Peters said. “You can be sure that we’re not stopping here, the quest is not over until that bottom line number is zero.”

Motorcycle safety continues to be a problem, with motorcycle fatalities not accounting for 13 per cent of all fatalities. In 2007, the number of motorcycle riders or passengers killed on U.S. roads increased 6.6 per cent over 2006.

Peters said that new national figures released yesterday show a significant number of drunk driving-related fatalities occurring nationally and in 32 individual states, but in half the states, the number of alcohol-related fatalities among motorcyclists is climbing.

An estimated 12,998 people were killed in crashes where a vehicle operator had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, which represented a 3.7 per cent decline from the 13,491 fatalities in 2006.

“More drivers are getting the message that if you drink and drive, you will be caught, you will be arrested and you will go to jail,” Peters said. “But as good as this progress is, in this day and age there is simply no excuse for someone to drink and then drive.”

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