A need to tighten the belt

News AASHTO Journal April 03, 2001
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After a record low in 1999, traffic fatality rates increased in 2000, according to preliminary estimates by the National Highwa

After a record low in 1999, traffic fatality rates increased in 2000, according to preliminary estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled rose to 1.6 last year, up from 1.5 in 1999. Actual number of people killed rose from 41,611 in 1999 to 41,800 in 2000. Alcohol-related deaths stayed at 38%, though actual numbers of people killed in alcohol-related crashes rose from 15,786 to 16,068. Final numbers will be available in July.


"These statistics underscore the challenges facing this country in highway safety," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta. "Safety is an individual as well as government responsibility, and we must work together to improve it."


Two areas showed improvement--deaths of child passengers ages four and under dropped 2.3%, from 555 to 542. There also was a decline in pedestrian deaths, from 4,906 to 4,727, a drop of 3.6%.


The 2000 statistics show 61% of people killed in vehicle crashes did not use safety belts.


"We've been saying it for years and it's still true--using your seat belt can save your life," added Mineta.



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