Car accident deaths at lowest level since 1950

The Transportation Department is reporting that traffic deaths fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to 33,808 fatalities, the lowest number since 1950.   In 2008 an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways.  A total of 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico saw reductions in fatalities, lead by Florida which had 422 fewer deaths, and Texas which was down 405 deaths. Economic downturns are often accompanied by a reduction in motor vehicle fatalities because people are out traveling the roads less in a bad economy, but last year’s reduction in the number of fatal accidents on roads came at a time when the estimated number of miles traveled by motorists increased by 0.2% over 2008 levels.  The annual highway safety report also found that:

* Motorcycle deaths broke a string of 11 years of increases, falling 16% from 5,312 motorbike accident deaths in 2008 to 4,462 in 2009

* Alcohol impaired driving deaths declined 7.4% in 2009 to 10,839 deaths due to drunk driving, compared with 11,711 in 2008.