Traffic deaths last year lowest since ’61 –

Traffic deaths last year lowest since ’61 –
(CNN) — The number of Americans killed on U.S. highways last year was the lowest since 1961, the Department of Transportation announced Monday.
The number of fatalities on U.S. highways dropped in 2008 to its lowest level since 1961.

Last year’s death toll was put at 37,313. In 1961, the number of lives lost was 36,285. The numbers were compiled by the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There’s no information in this about whether the number of miles traveled was guesstimated, and factored into the deaths per million miles travelled. 2008 was the big gas price run-up, which (reportedly) had most drivers cutting way back on their driving, which can be assumed would cut down on accidents just through subtracting drivers and miles driven.

We’ll see when the 2009 numbers come out. If the death toll is back up we’ll know it wasn’t seatbelts (though they no doubt helped, and I’m a big fan of seatbelt use).


  1. Fernando Colina says:

    Vehicle-Miles Traveled is calculated from a nationwide sample of vehicles that had their odometers read at the start and the end of the year.

    So it would seem that the number of 1.28 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is a true historical low. I suppose that other factors such as less-crowded roads could have an influence, though.

    See here for more details on the calculation: