Florida had 422 fewer Traffic fatalities in 2009 than in 2008. In fact, forty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all had reductions in fatalities. Thus, Traffic deaths are at a 60-year low despite a slight uptick in miles driven.
The numbers say that 33,808 people died on the nation's roads last year. That number represents a decrease of 3,615, or 9.7%, from 2008. That was the lowest total since 33,186 people were killed in 1950, when there were one-fifth the number of vehicles on the road than today.
The motor vehicle fatality rate -- the number of deaths per 100 million miles traveled -- is the lowest ever: 1.13 deaths in 2009, down from 1.26 in 2008.
Harsha attributes the decline in deaths to a number of safety-related factors, including increased seat belt use, stronger enforcement of drunken-driving laws, improved roads, safer vehicles and better coordination in the states.
Motorcycle deaths were down 10%. Fatalities in this group fell by 850 from 2008, ending 11 straight years of increases. Obviously this number would have nothing to do with seat belts or safer vehicles.
Drunken-driving deaths dropped by 7.4%
In an article in the USA Today, LaHood, whom President Obama named Transportation secretary in December 2008, was noted as saying that he has focused heavily on curtailing distracted driving, especially related to cellphones and handheld devices. He says it's difficult to tell whether those efforts are a factor in declining traffic fatalities.
"We think (distracted driving is) an epidemic, because everybody in America owns a cellphone, and everybody who owns one has either used it or texted on it while driving," he told the USA Today.
•All crashes (fatal, injury and property damage) were down by 5.3% in 2009 from a year earlier.
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