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NHTSA reports fatalities lowest in more than half century; Florida lowest in nearly two decades

Toyota Prius Crash
This crashed Toyota Prius in New York did not result in a fatality. In spite of Toyota's reliability woes, the NHTSA reported March 11, 2009, that the number highway traffic fatalities in 2009 were the lowest since 1954, and the rate of fatalities was the lowest ever recorded. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on March 11 that the number of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 was the lowest since 1954. The 33,963 fatalities was a drop of 8.9 percent from 2008, and represents the lowest in rate in history, with 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. This national trend follows a January report that crash fatalities in Florida during 2009 were the lowest in 18 years, with 2,570 deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes the national decline in 2009 to a combination of factors that include, high visibility campaigns like Click It or Ticket to increase seat belt use, and Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest which helps with the enforcement of state laws to prevent drunk driving and distracted driving. In addition, the decline is also the result of safer roads, safer vehicles and motorists driving less.

“This continuing decline in highway deaths is encouraging, but our work is far from over,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland. “We want to see those numbers drop further. We will not stop as long as there are still lives lost on our nation’s highways. We must continue our efforts to ensure seat belts are always used and stay focused on reducing distracted and impaired driving.”

“One of the easiest ways for motorists to stay safe on the road is to buckle up,” said Florida Highway Patrol Director, Colonel John Czernis, when the Florida data were released in January. “We encourage motorists to take precautions, such as fastening their safety belts and ensuring their vehicles are properly maintained. The FHP is working in partnership with all law enforcement agencies statewide, and we are aggressively patrolling to remove dangerous drivers from Florida roadways who pose unnecessary and unlawful risks to others.”

View the NHTSA full report
View the Florida press release


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