The fatality rate on the nation's highways in 2004 was thelowest since record-keeping began 30 years ago, according to arecent analysis by the National Highway Traffic SafetyAdministration.

“Drivers are safer today on our nation's highways than they haveever been, in part because of the safer cars, higher safety-beltuse, and stronger safety laws that this department has helpedchampion,” said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.

Last year in the United States, 42,636 people were killed invehicular accidents, down from 42,884 in 2003. The fatality rateper 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.46 in 2004, down from1.48 in 2003. The fatality rate has been steadily improving since1966 when 50,894 people died and the rate was 5.5, NHTSA noted. Atthe same time, drivers have increased their vehicle miles traveled,to 2.92 trillion in 2004, up from 2.89 trillion in 2003.”

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