The nation last year saw the largest drop in traffic deaths in more than a decade, which led to the lowest highway fatality rate ever recorded, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Monday. Last year, 42,642 people died in traffic crashes, a drop of 868 deaths from 2005. That 2% decline contributed to the historic low fatality rate of 1.42 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, reports USA Today. “Tough safety requirements and new technologies are helping make our vehicles safer and our roads less deadly,” she said.
Fatalities of occupants of passenger vehicles – cars, SUVs, vans and pickups – fell to 30,521, the lowest annual total since 1993. Injuries were also down, with passenger car injuries falling 6.2% and large truck injuries 15%, Peters said. USA Today reported in January that traffic deaths dropped substantially last year in 16 states. In many cases, those decreases reflected stepped-up enforcement, education campaigns and new laws.