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NHTSA Announces Record Low Fatality Rate in 2004

LCT Staff
Posted on August 3, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fatality rate on the nation’s highways in 2004 was the lowest since record-keeping began 30 years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced. The number of alcohol- related fatalities also dropped for the second straight year.

All told, 42,636 people died on the nation’s highways in 2004, down from 42,884 in 2003. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.46 in 2004, down from 1.48 in 2003. The fatality rate has been steadily improving since 1966 when 50,894 people died and the rate was 5.5.

"Drivers are safer today on our nation’s highways than they have ever been, in part because of the safer cars, higher safety belt-use and stronger safety laws that this Department has helped champion," said Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. "But as long as the number of highway deaths remains as high as it is, we will keep advocating for the kind of vehicles, roads and driving habits that make people safer in their cars and trucks."

Since 2001, the number of states with primary safety-belt laws has increased to 22, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, leading to an 80% safety belt use level, the highest ever. In addition, all states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, now have 0.08 blood alcohol laws for drivers. (Minnesota’s 0.08 law took effect Aug. 1).

The NHTSA earlier estimated that highway crashes cost taxpayers $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person. NHTSA annually collects crash statistics from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to produce annual reports on traffic fatality trends.

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