Highway fatalities drop 8.9% in 2009, reach lowest level since 1954

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today that the number of overall traffic fatalities reported at the end of 2009 reached the lowest level since 1954, declining for the 15th consecutive quarter.

“This is exciting news, but there are still far too many people dying in traffic accidents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Drivers need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their focus on the road in order to stay safe.”

DOT said that the projected fatality data for 2009 places the highway death count at 33,963, a drop of 8.9 percent as compared to the 37,261 deaths reported in 2008.

“This continuing decline in highway deaths is encouraging, but our work is far from over,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland. “We want to see those numbers drop further. We will not stop as long as there are still lives lost on our nation”s highways.

The NHTSA attributes the decline in 2009 to high-visibility campaigns like “Click it or Ticket” to increase seat belt use and “Drunk Driving Over the Limit Under Arrest, which assists with the enforcement of state laws to prevent drunk driving and distracted driving.

– By: Kap Shah