Highway Traffic Deaths Down Slightly, Still Too Many Lives Lost, Peters Says

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters on May 25 announced that preliminary figures show traffic deaths on U.S. roads were down slightly in 2006, but cautioned that far too many lives continue to be lost, saying that "even one death is too many."

Projected to have declined slightly nationwide from 43,443 in 2005 to 43,300 in 2006, more half of passenger vehicle occupants killed died unbuckled. "Bad things happen when people don't buckle up, and no one is immune from the damage and devastation that comes from not wearing a seat belt," Peters said while taking the opportunity to commend New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine for his work to educate drivers and other vehicle occupants about the need to buckle up. "Perhaps his pictures and his words about his crash will inspire people to buckle up every time they get in the car, no excuses."

The preliminary numbers released project a 2006 fatality rate of 1.44 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), down from 1.45 in 2005. Injuries dropped six percent from 2.7 million in 2005 to 2.54 million in 2006. Previous estimates show that highway crashes cost society $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person.

The preliminary report is available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810755.PDF.

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