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Highway fatality rate at record low

Associated Press
Published August 26, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - The fatality rate on Florida's highways dropped to an all-time low of 1.66 deaths per 100-million miles of travel in 2004, the Florida Highway Patrol said Thursday.

The actual number of highway deaths increased in 2004, but the rate per mile decreased because of the growing number of drivers on the state's roads. There were about 160,000 more registered drivers in Florida in 2004 than in 2003.

The Highway Patrol said 3,257 people were killed in Florida traffic crashes in 2004. About a third were alcohol-related. Drivers between 15 and 19 had the highest rate of fatal crashes and the highest rate of all crashes.

The new rate beat the previous low of 1.71 deaths per 100-million miles of travel, set in 2003.

The decline mirrored a national trend, for which experts have credited better enforcement of drunken driving laws and lower legal alcohol limits. The rate of alcohol-related crashes as a percentage of all crashes in Florida also declined.

Jonathan Adkins, communications director for the Governors Highway Safety Association in Washington, said Florida has increased its DUI enforcement, and said police in Florida have also run high-profile campaigns to encourage seat belt use.

Adkins said crash deaths have dropped in recent years because cars are getting safer. Most now on the road have air bags and other standard safety features.

Nationally, 42,636 people died on the highways in 2004, a reduction of 248 - or 0.6 percent - from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

[Last modified August 26, 2005, 01:35:09]

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