U.S. traffic deaths have hit their lowest level in over 60 years, according to federal estimates. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday announced that 32,310 died in traffic accidents last year — marking the seventh consecutive years the death rate had declined and a 25% drop since 2005 alone. It’s also the lowest level since 1949, when the U.S. interstate highway system was still a thing of the future.
Experts attributed the drop in part to tougher drunk driving laws, more widespread seatbelt use and stricter federal safety rules on vehicles — as well as possibly to the economic downturn. New England saw the biggest drop in fatalities, while Arizona, California and Hawaii collectively saw an increase. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the death rate is still too high, particularly deaths from distracted drivers.