Tuesday, August 10, 2004
|Contact: Rae Tyson
Telephone: (202) 366-9550
DOT Announces Historic
Low Highway Fatality Rate in 2003
The fatality rate on the nation’s highways in 2003 was the lowest since record keeping began 29 years ago, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced today. The number of crash-related injuries also dropped to a historic low in 2003.
"America’s roads and highways are safer than ever," said Secretary Mineta. "The decreasing number of traffic fatalities and record low death rate on our roads shows that we are headed down the right road – one that leads to a safer America."
Secretary Mineta pointed to efforts by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that contributed to the reduction in the fatal accident rate, including campaigns to encourage safety belt use and discourage impaired driving, work with state legislatures to pass tougher safety belt and drunk driving laws, and rulemaking efforts to improve vehicle safety standards.
A total of 42,643 people died, and 2.89 million were injured in 2003. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was 1.48 in 2003, down from 1.51 in 2002. It was the first time the rate has dropped below 1.5. In 2002, 43,005 were killed and 2.93 million were injured.
"We at NHTSA are proud of the progress we’ve made and the success of the priorities we’ve established during this Administration," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, M.D. "But much of the credit goes to the committed professionals in the states and communities who implement the programs, and to safety professionals in the automotive industry who offer safer vehicles."
Alcohol-related fatalities also dropped significantly in 2003, the first such decline since 1999, as more states adopted laws that allowed them to prosecute drivers at .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) and above. 2004 marks the first year that .08 BAC laws have been enacted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
2003 HIGHWAY FATALITY RATE
In 2003, VMT increased to 2.88 trillion, up from 2.86 trillion in 2002, according to the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration.
NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) also shows that between 2002 and 2003:
NHTSA earlier estimated that highway crashes cost society $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person.
NHTSA annually collects crash statistics from 50 states and the District of Columbia to produce
the annual report on traffic fatality trends. Summaries of the 2003 report are available on the
NHTSA web site at:
|State||2002||2003||% Change||State||2002||2003||% Change|
|Dist of Columbia||47||67||+43%||North Dakota||97||105||+8.2%|
Return to Press Release Page