Some 32,788 people died on American roads in 2010, the smallest number since Harry Truman was in the White House—and there were a lot fewer people on the roads back then. Last year saw the fewest traffic accident deaths since 1949, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures released today. Traffic deaths have dropped an amazing 25% in just five years, reports the New York Times.
Experts say factors behind the steep decline include safety features in newer models of cars, stricter car-seat laws, and increased attention to safety when highways are built or refurbished. The decline in driving caused by the economic downturn may have also played a role, although statistics show that America's roadways are much safer than they used to be when measured by deaths per mile traveled. In 2010, there were 1.09 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled. In 1949, the rate was 7.13. (Read more highway safety stories.)