U.S. Traffic Deaths Have Dropped 25 Percent Since 2004

Jan 01, 2015 04:00 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

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U.S. traffic deaths have dropped nearly 25 percent over the past decade, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Earlier this month, NHTSA released its final 2013 data from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which showed 32,719 people died in traffic crashes last year. That number represents a 3.1-percent drop from the previous year.

Traffic injuries last year declined by 2.1 percent, NHTSA said in its study.

"With the holidays upon us, I give thanks that more of our friends and family are with us this year because of the broad partnership of safety-driven individuals and organizations who have joined us in making our roads safer for everyone," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a company statement. "Safety truly is a shared responsibility and we've all got more work to do in the New Year to keep more families together - that's my resolution to the American people."

The safety administration said the 2013 fatality rate of 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was a historically low amount, especially when compared to the fatality rate in 2012 of 1.14 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.

The fatality rate reported by the agency includes people killed in passenger vehicles and heavy trucks, along with bicycle and motorcycle riders and pedestrians.

"Almost 90 people on average lose their lives each day - and more than 250 are injured every hour - due to drunk driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and the many other factors associated with traffic crashes," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman in a company statement. "As we work each day at NHTSA, these are tragic reminders of the importance of our efforts and how we must build on our many successes and continue to work even harder to protect the American public."

Alcohol was a factor in almost one-third of traffic deaths last year, according to the agency.

NHTSA said pedestrian deaths dropped to approximately 4,735, though the number remains above the record low of 4,109 pedestrian fatalities recorded back in 2009.

One of the most significant statistics reported by the agency is the number of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes, which declined to 21,132 in 2013. This is the lowest number ever recorded since the agency started tracking passenger vehicle occupants killed during crashes back in 1975, NHTSA said.

Passenger vehicles include passenger cars, minivans, pickup trucks and SUVs.

Thirty-four states experienced reductions in overall traffic fatalities, including Ohio (132 fewer fatalities), Kentucky (108 fewer), Pennsylvania (102 fewer), South Carolina (96 fewer) and Arkansas (77 fewer).

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