The Transportation Department said earlier this month that traffic fatalities fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. In 2008, an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways.
The number of people killed on the highway continues to drop. In projections of traffic deaths for the first six months of 2010, government officials estimated that 14,996 people died in vehicle crashes from January through the end of June. During the first half of 2009, 16,509 people were killed on the road.
If the projections hold up, fewer than 30,000 people will be killed in 2010, a record low.
Auto safety experts have attributed the declines to the economy, more motorists buckling up and better safety technology in new cars.
The rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled is also on pace to drop to a record low. It declined to 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles in 2009, compared with 1.26 the year before. In the first half of 2010, the rate was 1.02.