Despite Americans having driven some 21 billion more miles in 2010 than in 2009, the total number of highway fatalities dropped by some three percent last year, to the lowest level since 1949. According to early projections by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the absolute number of traffic fatalities fell from 33,808 to 32,788 during that period, and the projected fatalities per 100-million miles driven dropped from 1.13 to 1.09, which would also constitute another new record.

According to NHTSA’s preliminary data, the biggest reductions in vehicle-related deaths occurred in the Pacific Northwest states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, which recorded a 12 percent decline. Arizona, California and Hawaii followed closely behind recording an 11 percent decline.

“Last year's drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news and it proves that we can make a difference," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first."

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