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U.S. Highway Fatalities Hit Record Lows, Rising Gas Prices Credited

Posted in Gas Prices, Newsworthy, Traffic, Travel by Suzanne Denbow | August 21st, 2008 | Leave a Reply |

Serving to further validate preliminary studies published by both Harvard University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham [Covered by RideLust back in July, “Silver Lining To Escalating Gas Prices?”], the United States Secretary of Transportation announced last week that the number of highway fatalities hit record lows for 2007 – while oil prices hit record highs. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, the number of traffic fatalities for 2007 totaled 41,059, the lowest overall number since 1994. Simultaneously, the rate of traffic fatalities has also achieved a record low, averaging for 2007 1.37 fatalities per 100 vehicle miles traveled, the lowest number on record to date.

Peters attributes the positive trend to “safer vehicles and aggressive law enforcement.” While we’ll hand her both “safer vehicles” and “aggressive law enforcement” [here’s to you, Virginia Beach District Traffic Court], we also think ridiculous oil prices and an economy so tight you can’t even find a quarter on the sidewalk deserve a tip o’ the hat as well.

Full Release From USDoT:

Thursday, August 14, 2008
DOT 113-08
Contact: Brian Turmail
Tel.: (202) 366-4570

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters Announces Historic Drop in Highway Fatalities and Rate
Motorcycle fatalities still rising, Secretary Peters says, while announcing increased safety, drunk driving outreach and enforcement efforts

WASHINGTON – 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 today.

Secretary 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.

The Secretary 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,” Secretary 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, the Secretary said.

To address these challenges, Secretary Peters announced the launch of new advertisements that focus on motorcycle safety and drunk driving. They can be viewed at http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/planners/crackdown2008/planner/index.cfm

Tomorrow, the Department will kick off its annual impaired driving enforcement crackdown called, “Drunk Driving. Over the limit. Under Arrest.” The effort runs through Labor Day.

During today’s announcement, made outside of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District headquarters, Secretary Peters viewed a motorcycle safety demonstration.

Secretary 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,” Secretary Peters said.

The Department collects crash statistics annually from 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to produce annual reports on fatalities and injuries. To view the 2007 report in its entirety, please visit

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