Road miles increase, fatality rate at 60-year low

| Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Americans drove 3 trillion miles in 2010, a big increase over the previous year and the third-highest total on record, and yet highway fatalities remain at the lowest rate in nearly 60 years.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday, March 2, that the increase in highway miles, which was 20.5 billion more than miles driven in 2009, underscores the need for road and bridge work to update and maintain the nation?s infrastructure.

?More driving means more wear and tear on our nation?s roads and bridges,? LaHood said in a statement. ?This new data further demonstrates why we need to repair the roads and bridges that are the lifeblood of our economy.?

Nebraska had the biggest bounceback by state, with an 11.1 percent increase over 2009. An eight-state bloc from Texas to Kentucky saw an increase of 46.6 billion miles over the previous year according to a Federal Highway Administration study.

FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez said the data will help the DOT make decisions about spending infrastructure money in the future.

?Repairing our nation?s roads, bridges and tunnels will help us ensure safety, strengthen the economy and build for the future,? Mendez stated in a DOT release.

OOIDA supports a strong investment in highways and bridges.

Congressional committees are currently drafting a long-term surface transportation authorization bill to address infrastructure, policy, safety and funding.

As miles traveled increase, the 2009 fatality rate of 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles traveled was the lowest since 1950. Highway deaths totaled 33,808 in 2009, and despite a 9.7 percent decrease over the previous year, it?s still way too many.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 3 to 34, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.