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Lowest level of annual traffic fatalities in more than six decades

December 7, 2011

Updated 2010 fatality and injury data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on December 8 shows that highway deaths fell to 32,885 for the year, the lowest level since 1949. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even as American drivers traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 2009 level.

"While we have more work to do to continue to protect American motorists, these numbers show we're making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation's roadways," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The updated information released by NHTSA indicates 2010 also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010, down from 1.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009. Other key statistics include:

  • Fatalities declined in most categories in 2010, including for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks (including SUVs, minivans and pickups).
  • Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 4.9 percent in 2010, taking 10,228 lives compared to 10,759 in 2009.
  • Fatalities rose among pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and large truck occupants.

Read the NHTSA press release.