The decline in Idaho highway deaths was the seventh best in the nation according to information released this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The number of fatalities on Idaho highways dropped from 293 in 2003 to 260 last year, representing a decline of 11.3 percent. The most dramatic improvement was recorded by the District of Columbia, which cut its fatalities by 35.8 percent (from 67 to 43). Rhode Island’s 20.2 percent decline in traffic deaths was the best among the 50 states.
Idaho's decline is attributable, in part, to increased seat belt use, safety campaigns and increased awareness. Earlier this year, Idaho drivers were ranked among the most knowledgeable nationwide.
The only states ahead of Idaho in reduced traffic fatality rates were: Minnesota 13.4 percent, Nebraska, 13.3 percent, Montana 12.6 percent and Iowa, 12.0 percent.
Traffic deaths soared in the New England states of Vermont (a 42 percent increase, from 69 to 98) and New Hampshire (36.4 percent, from 127 to 171). New Mexico, Indiana, Arkansas and Alabama also reported double-digit percentage increases.
More than half of the states (27) recorded declines in traffic fatalities, led by Texas with 238 fewer deaths and Michigan with a drop of 124.
“Early results from the 2004 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) show that the number of persons killed in the U.S. in motor vehicle traffic crashes declined from 2003,” according to the NHTSA report, complied by the National Center for Statistics & Analysis.
“This is the second consecutive year in which traffic crash fatalities have declined after reaching a recent high of 43,005 in 2002. With an expected increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the fatality rate per 100 million VMT will be 1.46, the lowest recorded by the Department of Transportation.”
The report also shows a decline in the number of pedestrian fatalities (2.8 percent). The number of motorcyclists killed on U.S. highways rose by 7.9 percent.
Alcohol-related fatalities decreased for the second consecutive year, dropping by 2.4 percent and falling below 17,000 for the first time in five years. The number of deaths by vehicle occupants who were not restrained fell by 3.4 percent.
NHTSA’s reporting system is a census of all crashes of motor vehicles traveling on a public roadway in which a person died within 30 days of the crash.
The report is available at: