Excellent news from the Transportation Department: Total traffic deaths declined in 2009 to 33,963. That’s a decrease of nearly 9% since 2008, and a continuation of decreases since 2005, when total traffic deaths were 43,510. It’s the lowest total number of deaths since 1954.
Factors possibly contributing to the decrease in deaths are greater enforcement of seat belt laws, more awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, and especially vehicles with better safety devices such as side air bags. One other possibility is that with the recent economic downturn, people may be driving fewer miles than in the years before the recession first hit.