The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is reporting that traffic deaths are at a 60-year low, with the number of people who died on the road dropping 9.7% (3,615) from 2008 to 2009. The decline in deaths can be chalked up to a number of increased safety measures over the years, "including increased seat belt use, stronger enforcement of drunken-driving laws, improved roads, safer vehicles and better coordination in the states," says Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Even with Americans driving .2% more in 2009 than in 2008, the motor vehicle fatality rate (number of deaths every 100 million miles driven) fell from 1.26 to 1.13. Even motorcycle fatalities declined by 850 in the span of a year, a category which is notable for its 11 year run of increases. Drunk driving deaths were reduced 7.4%. Some of the success may be attributed to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s effort to minimize distracted driving.