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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

2005 Overall Highway Fatality Rates Rise Due to Spike in Motorcycle and Pedestrian Deaths

Despite Overall Increase, Deaths Among Young Drivers Declined in 2005

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that a rise in motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities contributed to an increase in road fatalities in 2005. The overall number of deaths climbed 1.4 percent from 42,836 in 2004 to 43,443 in 2005, while the rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.47 deaths, an increase from 1.45 in 2004.

Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino observed that notwithstanding the increase in motorbike and pedestrian casualties, other fatality trends were getting better. For example, in 2005 the number of young driver auto fatalities dropped for the third straight year, the number of child fatalities in car crashes also declined. Children ages 8-15 saw the largest drop. “We will not be satisfied until the fatality and injury numbers reach zero,” said NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason.

The increase in overall vehicle deaths is caused by the striking growth in the increase of motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities over the previous year, the Acting Secretary noted. For example, motorcycle fatalities climbed 13 percent from 4,028 in 2004 to 4,553 in 2005, because almost 50 percent of the people who died opted not to wear a helmet. The number of pedestrian casualties grew to 4,881 in 2005 from 4,675 in 2004 and NHTSA is investigating this year’s increase to determine the cause, the Acting Secretary added.

"We have no tolerance for any numbers higher than zero," Acting Secretary Cino said. "Motorcyclists need to wear their helmets, drivers need to buckle up and all motorists need to stay sober."

To help reduce the number of motorcycle deaths, Cino said the NHTSA is encouraging motorcyclists to obtain proper training, wear a helmet at all times, and absolutely never drink and drive.

Over the next three years, the Department’s Federal Highway Administration is supplying more than $600 million to help state and local governments to develop pedestrian safety programs.

Now for the good news: between 2004 and 2005, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows a decline of 4.6 percent in deaths of young drivers age 16-20, from 3,538 to 3,374. Fatal crashes involving young drivers declined by 6.3 percent from 7,431 to 6,964. At the same time, the number of children 0-15 dying in crashes dropped from 2,622 in 2004 to 2,348 in 2005.

The number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes dropped 3.2 percent from 2.8 million in 2004 to 2.7 million in 2005. Passenger casualties also dropped by 451, from 31,866 in 2004 to 31,415 in 2005, the lowest figure since 1994.

Additionally, the number of deaths from large truck crashes declined slightly from 5,235 to 5,212, while the number of deaths by rollover crashes increased 2.1 percent from 10,590 to 10, 816. SUV rollover fatalities dropped 1.8 percent from 2,929 to 2,877.

Driver education helps ensure the safety of American drivers. The National Safety Commission recommends The Driver Education Handbook for Parents as a valuable teaching tool for parents who are concerned with their teen's driving safety and understand the value of quality instruction.

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