The Washington Post

Traffic deaths decline to record lows

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday released updated highway traffic fatality numbers for last year showing more deaths than originally calculated but still the lowest number on record.

The NHTSA said the revised count was 32,885, adding 97 fatalities to the number released in March. The nationwide number is compiled from reports filed by states and is routinely subject to revision as additional information arrives.

The revised figure still is the lowest since 1949, a 25 percent decline since highway deaths peaked in 2005. The steady drop has been attributed to better safety features in vehicles — seat belt improvements, safer air bags, better vehicle stabilization, advancements in highway design and high-profile campaigns against drunken and distracted driving.

The decline in deaths continued in 2010 even as the number of miles traveled in the U.S. increased by 1.6 percent over the previous year.

“These numbers show we’re making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation’s roadways,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We’re saving lives, reducing injuries and building the foundation for what we hope will be even greater success in the future.”

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.

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