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Monday, January 05, 2009

New Data Reveals Record Low Annual Highway Fatalities

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters Says Nation’s Roads Safer Than Ever

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters recently reported that the number of people killed in automobile crashes is expected to reach a new record low in 2008. The first 10 months of this year show a nearly 10 percent drop in highway traffic deaths.

Secretary Peters made the announcement in Kansas City where she also outlined important safety standards that have been achieved across all areas of transportation.

“Our focus on safety – from our highways, railways, seaways and airways – has led to one of the safest periods in our nation’s transportation history,” said Secretary Peters. “Every American can be more confident than ever they will arrive at their destination safe and sound.”

According to Secretary Peters, the new fatality data marks the first time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can project fatality figures before the end of the calendar year. Using new electronic data gathering methods, the Department is making projections in almost real time to “give safety professionals the data they need to keep motorists safe,” the Secretary said.

Early 2008 estimates show that 31,110 people perished on U.S. roads from January through October, compared to 34,502 in 2007 during that same 10-month time period. What’s more, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicles miles traveled for the first nine months of 2008 is 1.28, compared to 1.37 for 2007.

“For the second year in a row we are seeing historic lows in deaths on our nation’s roads,” said Secretary Peters. “While we are encouraged by these declines, our work is not nearly complete in making our safe transportation network even safer.”

NHTSA collects annual crash statistics from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to create annual reports on traffic fatality trends. The agency will be updating 2008 estimates regularly as more data becomes available. The final counts for 2008 will be made available in the summer of 2009. To view the preliminary fatality statistics visit:

For more information on important transportation safety benchmarks in the United States, please visit:

Is your teen a safe driver? The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has developed a new Teen Injury Prevention course to emphasize driving safety for teenagers. For more information, including a Driver Education a Driver Education Book for Parents, visit

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