Car Accident Fatalities Hit Record Low in 2010

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced that, according to updated information, highway deaths declined to 32,885 in 2010, the lowest number since 1949.

This decline in traffic fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes, took place despite a 1.6 percent increase in the number of miles travelled by American drivers year-over-year, about 46 billion miles in absolute terms. The year was also marked by a record low fatality rate, only 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled, down from 1.15 in 2009.

The statistics were not all positive, however. The NHTSA reported increased casualties among pedestrians, motorcycle riders and large truck occupants, although fatalities decreased in other categories.

"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 DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

Fatalities due to crashes involving drunk drivers also decreased, dropping 4.9 percent to 10,228 deaths in 2010. Continued progress may improve safety, lower medical, law enforcement and other accident-related costs, and exert downward pressure on auto insurance premiums.

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