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NHTSA: 2002 Highway Deaths Highest Since 1990

Freeway Fatalities for 2002

In 2002, an estimated 42,850 people died on the nation’s highways, the highest number of fatalities since 1990, according to preliminary estimates from the U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) remained unchanged at 1.51, according to preliminary estimates.

Alcohol-related highway fatalities increased again in 2002 while the majority of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing safety belts, according to the preliminary estimates.

Fatalities in rollover crashes involving sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks accounted for 53 percent of the increase in traffic deaths. In 2002, 10,626 people died in rollover crashes, up 4.9 percent from 10,130 in 2001.

The preliminary report also notes some significant progress.

NHTSA said that deaths of children seven and under dropped to historic low levels. In 2002, 980 children seven and under were killed, down from 1,053 in 2001. Pedestrian deaths also declined to 4,776, a 2.2 percent drop from 2001. The number of persons injured in crashes also declined from an estimated 3,033,000 in 2001 to 2,914,000 in 2002, almost a four percent drop.

NHTSA earlier estimated that highway crashes cost society $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person.

The preliminary 2002 statistics also continue to show the increased risk of death and injury when drivers and passengers do not wear safety belts: 59 percent of those killed in crashes last year were not belted.

Summaries of the preliminary report are available on the NHTSA web site.

(Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
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