US highway deaths fall to lowest number since 1949; large vehicle, distracted accident deaths rise

WASHINGTON - National highway deaths are down to the lowest level in over 60 years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2011, there were 32,367 highway deaths, decreasing 1.9 percent from 2010.

Additionally, this number was the lowest since 1949.

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System also reported that the number of national fatalities was the lowest ever recorded, down .01 percent from 2010.

Fatalities involving passengers in SUVs, minivans, pickups and passenger cars decreased 4.6 percent.

Deaths in crashes with drunk drivers took 9,878 lives as opposed to 10,136 lives in the previous year.

Unfortunately, fatalities involving large trucks, bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists increased by 20 percent, 8.7 percent, 3 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.

As for another increase, distraction-related accidents also increased by 1.9 percent, but officials are unsure of whether that number is due to increased reporting and awareness.

Despite Americans driving 1.2 percent fewer miles than in 2010, the NHTSA says that the change in number of deaths strongly outweighs the change in miles driven.

Officials believe the change was due to better technology, public education and through taking on issues like drunk driving, distractions and other safety hazards.

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