Traffic fatalities fall in 2009
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Transportation, traffic fatalities nationally reached the lowest level since 1954.
Projections from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration places the number of traffic deaths in 2009 at 33,963, a drop of almost 9 percent compared to the 2008 total of 37,261.
"This is exciting news, but there are still far too many people dying in traffic accidents," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "Drivers need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their focus on the road in order to stay safe."
NTHSA attributed the decline to increased seat belt use and campaigns that discourage drunk driving and the use of cellphones and text-messaging devices while behind the wheel.
The agency collects the information from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to produce annual reports. The agency said final counts -- and local data -- won't be available until the summer.
-- Staff Reports
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