Highway deaths decrease in 1999; fatal crashes involving big trucks down

Highway deaths declined last year, with the fatality rate hitting a record low, Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said Monday, April 3. There were 41,375 people killed on American highways in 1999, down from 41,471 the year before.

Slater said the new figures marked an all-time low rate of 1.5 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles driven, down from 1.6 a year earlier and the third consecutive year of decline. Fatalities in crashes involving large trucks dropped from 5,374 in 1998 to 5,203 in 1999.

By comparison, the highway death rate was 5.5 per million vehicle miles in 1966. The number of alcohol-related fatalities also declined, falling to 15,794 from 15,934 in 1998, according to preliminary estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The annual traffic safety report indicated a 10 percent drop in the number of pedestrians killed and a drop in deaths among children under five who were passenger vehicle occupants (from 566 in 1998 to 543) in 1999. Other findings included a slight increase in the number of people injured, from 3.19 million to 3.2 million.

Motorcycle crashes increased, killing 2,537 in 1999 compared to 2,284 in 1998. Speeding-related traffic deaths rose from 12,477 in 1998 to 12,672 in 1999.