WASHINGTON (AP) - Traffic deaths in the United States declined last year, reaching the lowest level in more than a decade, the government reported Thursday. Some 41,059 people were killed in highway crashes, down by more than 1,600 from 2006. The fatality rate of 1.37 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled in 2007 was the lowest on record, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in its report. "Thanks to safer vehicles, aggressive law enforcement and our efforts, countless families were spared the devastating news that a loved one was not coming home," said Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. California had the largest decline, 266 fewer fatalities than the previous year.
The largest percentage decreases were in South Dakota and Vermont. North Carolina's death toll increased the most in the nation, up 121 over the previous year. The District of Columbia and Alaska had the highest percentage increases. Motorcycle deaths increased for the 10th straight year.