Traffic Fatalities Rise Slightly

March 29, 2001

The number of people killed in traffic accidents increased last year, due in part to a rise in fatal motorcycle accidents.

Federal estimates to be released today are expected to show that after many years of decline, motorcycle accident deaths increased between 1997 to 2000, growing 27 percent during the three-year period.

Last year there were 2,680 motorcycle deaths, according to estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – 208 more than in 1999. The rate of death per miles traveled on the nation’s highways also increased last year for the first time since 1977.

There were 41,800 fatalities, or 1.6 deaths per million miles traveled, compared with 1.5 in 1999 and 3.3 in 1977. Deaths among teen drivers and alcohol-related fatalities rose also increased from 1999. While alcohol-related fatalities rose from 15,786 to 16,068, on a percentage basis it was at an all-time low at just 38 percent of total traffic deaths.

There were drops in the deaths of children under five, pedestrians, people involved in crashes with large trucks and occupants of vehicles that roll over. However, for occupants of less-stable sport utility vehicles, rollover deaths increased 2.8 percent.

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