The U.S. Department of Transportation released updated 2009 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels.
In addition, last year’s fatality and injury rates were the lowest ever recorded: 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.
Fatalities of large truck occupants dropped from 682 in 2008 to 503 in 2009, a 26 percent decline. The total number of fatalities involving large trucks decreased 20 percent from 4,542 in 2008 to 3,380 last year. The number of injuries in large truck crashes also fell 26 percent from 23,000 in 2008 to 17,000 in 2009.
Transportation Secretary LaHood will convene a National Distracted Driving Summit on Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C. The meeting will bring together leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers and victims affected by distraction-related crashes to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts.
Alcohol impaired driving fatalities declined by 7.4 percent in 2009 – 10,839 compared to 11,711 reported in 2008. Overall, 33 states and Puerto Rico experienced a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009 compared to 2008.
Highlights of the latest Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and related NHTSA data include the following:
• 33,808 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2009, a 9.7 percent decline from 37,423 deaths reported in 2008, and the lowest number of deaths since 1950 (which had 33,186).
• An estimated 2.217 million people were injured in 2009, a 5.5 percent decline from 2.346 million in 2008.
• 30,797 fatal crashes occurred in 2009, down 9.9 percent from 34,172 in 2008. All crashes (fatal, injury and property damage only) were down by 5.3 percent in 2009 from a year ago.
• Forty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all had reductions in fatalities, led by Florida (with 422 fewer fatalities) and Texas (with 405 fewer fatalities).