Peters Announces Historic Drop in Highway Fatalities

The number of people who died on the nation's roads dropped again last year, reaching historically low levels, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced yesterday.

This news comes as the department kicks off its annual impaired driving enforcement crackdown today called, "Drunk Driving. Over the limit. Under Arrest." The effort runs through Labor Day.

Peters said that in 2007, the overall number of traffic fatalities fell to 41,059, the lowest number since 1994. In addition, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.37, the lowest fatality rate on record, she noted.

Peters added that 2.49 million people were injured in highway crashes last year, the lowest seen since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began collecting injury data in 1988.

"Thanks to safer vehicles, aggressive law enforcement and our efforts, countless families were spared the devastating news that a loved one was not coming home last year," Peters said. "You can be sure that we're not stopping here, the quest is not over until that bottom line number is zero."

She noted, for example, that motorcycle safety continues to be a problem. Motorcycle fatalities now account for 13 percent of all fatalities and, in 2007 alone, the number of motorcycle riders or passengers killed on the nation's roads increased 6.6 percent over the previous year.

To address these challenges, Peters announced the launch of new advertisements that focus on motorcycle safety and drunk driving. They can be viewed at < a href-"http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/planners/crackdown2008/planner/index.cfm" Target="_blank">www.stopimpaireddriving.org/planners/crackdown2008/planner/index.cfm.

Peters added that the department will continue its efforts to combat impaired driving, increase safety belt use, and improve motorcycle safety.

"As these new statistics show, we are making progress, but far too many of our friends, neighbors, and family members are still getting killed or seriously injured," Peters said.

To view the 2007 report in its entirety, visit www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811017.PDF.

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