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 May 11, 2005
U.S. Traffic Death Rate Hit Record Low in 2004
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The death rate on U.S. highways hit a record low in 2004. But the total number of traffic deaths actually increased, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says.

That increase included a rise in the number of deaths of motorcyclists and drivers and passengers in large trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The traffic fatality rate in 2004 was 1.46 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That's the lowest rate since the rate of 5.50 deaths in 1966, the first year that such figures were recorded, the Associated Press reported.

Overall in 2004, there were 42,800 traffic deaths in the United States, an increase from 42,643 in 2003. Fifty-six percent of the people killed weren't wearing seatbelts. That rate was the same in 2003.

"If this many people were to die from any one disease in a single year, Americans would demand a vaccine. The irony is we already have the best vaccine available to reduce the death toll on our highways -- safety belts," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said.

The NHTSA estimated that alcohol-related traffic fatalities would show a decline in 2004, for the second straight year. Final 2004 traffic fatality figures are expected to be released in August, the AP reported.


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