U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released updated 2009 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 33,808 for the year, 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, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded: 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.
Fatalities declined in all categories of vehicles including motorcycles, which saw fatalities fall by 850 from 2008, breaking an 11-year cycle of annual increases.
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).
In Tennessee in 2009 there were 989 deaths in motor vehicle accidents, down from 1043 in 2008. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities were about the same – 303 in 2009 compared with 306 in 2008.
Here is the report.