fatality rate on the nation’s highways in 2003 was the lowest since record
keeping began nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation
announced Tuesday, Aug. 10. Crash-related injuries also dropped to a historic
low last year.
in large truck crashes, however, increased for the first time since 1997 while
large truck crash-related injuries declined to the lowest level since 1995.
roads and highways are safer than ever,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman
Mineta declared in a written statement. “The decreasing number of traffic
fatalities and record low death rate on our roads shows that we are headed down
the right road.”
told a gathering of media Tuesday in Washington, DC, that efforts by the U.S.
Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
contributed to the reduction in the fatal accident rate, including campaigns to
encourage seat-belt use and discourage impaired driving. Also cited was work
with state legislatures to pass tougher seat-belt and drunken driving laws, and
rulemaking efforts to improve vehicle safety standards.
rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.48 in 2003, down from 1.51 in
2002. It marked the first time the rate has dropped below 1.5 since record
keeping began almost 30 years ago.
number of people injured in 2003 was 2.89 million, down from 2.93 the previous
fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased from 4,939 to 4,986.
occupant fatalities increased from 689 to 723 while passenger vehicle occupant
deaths dipped slightly from 3,886 to 3,879. Fatalities of non-occupants rose
from 368 to 384.
the 723 truck occupant fatalities, 65 percent were not wearing a seat belt,
down from 70 percent in 2002.
total number of people injured in large truck crashes in 2003 decreased 6.2
percent to 122,000. Truck occupants injured rose 3.8 percent while injuries for
other vehicle occupants fell 8 percent.
general figures not related to truck crashes showed that between 2002 and 2003
motorcyclist fatalities increased 12 percent. Rollover deaths among passenger
vehicle occupants dipped 3.3 percent while sport utility vehicle rollover
fatalities rose 6.8 percent.
states had decreases in the total number of fatalities. The highest percentage
decreases were in Colorado, 15 percent, and Vermont, 12 percent. The highest
percentage increases were in the District of Columbia, 43 percent, Rhode
Island, 24 percent, and Oregon, 17 percent.