WASHINGTON — The number of people dying on US roads has fallen to its lowest level in six decades, helped by a combination of seat belts, safer cars and tougher enforcement of drunken driving laws.
The US Transportation Department said late Wednesday that traffic deaths fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. In 2008, an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways.
Forty-one states, Washington and Puerto Rico saw reductions in highway fatalities, led by Florida with 422 fewer deaths and Texas, down 405.
The rate of deaths per 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) traveled also dropped to a record low. It fell to 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) in 2009, compared with 1.26 the year before.