The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that, according to preliminary estimates, traffic fatality rates increased in 2000 after hitting a record low the previous year. The percentage of alcohol-related deaths in 2000 remained steady at 38% — an all-time low.
The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles was 1.6, up from the record low of 1.5 in 1999. The total number of people killed in highway crashes was up from 41,611 in 1999 to 41,800 in 2000. Though the percentage remained constant, the number of people who died in alcohol-related crashes rose from 15,786 in 1999 to 16,068 in 2000. While overall fatalities were up, deaths of child passengers aged four and under dropped 2.3% from 555 in 1999 to 542 in 2000. Pedestrian deaths also declined from 4,906 in 1999 to 4,727 in 2000, a reduction of 3.6%.
According to this early assessment of 2000 crash data, the number of people injured remained about the same at 3.2 million. The statistics also indicate 61% of those killed in crashes last year were not wearing seat belts. NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System also shows that:
Fatalities involving large-truck crashes dropped from 5,362 in 1999 to 5,307 in 2000. The number of young drivers (16 — 20) who died was up from 3,481 in 1999 to 3,570 in 2000.
Passenger vehicle deaths in rollover crashes declined from 10,133 to 10,108 in 2000. However, for occupants of sport utility vehicles, rollover deaths increased 2.8% from 1,898 in 1999 to 1,951 in 2000.
NHTSA's final 2000 report will be available in July. Summaries of the preliminary report can be accessed at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.