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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
U.S. Announces Record Low Traffic Deaths
Improved State Seat Belt Use Also Noted
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that as seat belt use continued to climb, the number of traffic deaths on U.S. roads last year reached a record low. Michigan has the highest seat belt use, while Massachusetts registered the lowest, according to new state-by-state data.
Secretary LaHood said, “Lower fatalities and higher seat belt use are trends we want to see. States like Michigan are raising the bar on seat belt use, making communities safer and keeping families intact.”
During 2008 Michigan’s belt use rate was 97.2 percent. In contrast, Massachusetts was 66.8 percent.
Also in 2008, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 37, 313 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. It’s the fewest number of deaths on U.S. roads since 1961, when 36,285 perished. The nation also witnessed the lowest fatality rate ever recorded in 2008 at 1.28 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 1.36 in 2007.
The survey supports the fact that places with primary belt laws continue to exhibit higher use rates than those with weaker laws. For example, Maine’s use increased from 79.8 percent to 83 percent a year after the state began enforcing a primary seat belt law.
What’s more, the survey also showed sixteen states and territories achieved use rates of 90 percent or higher. Those states are Michigan, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Maryland, Iowa, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois and the District of Columbia. Massachusetts, Wyoming and New Hampshire were states with the lowest use rates, all below 70 percent.
To view the report showing 2008 state-by-state seat belt use click here. To view the report showing estimated fatalities in 2008, click here.
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