Survey: Auto deaths drop in 40 states in 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) - A survey of state highway safety agencies suggests a silver lining to high gas prices and a faltering economy -- fewer traffic fatalities.

The Governors Highway Safety Association says vehicles deaths dropped in 40 states and the District of Columbia out of 44 states they surveyed. The average decline was 10.7 percent.

The survey is an early indication that traffic deaths could hit their lowest levels in four decades.

The head of the organization says deaths declined because people drove less in the face of skyrocketing gas prices in the first half of 2008 followed by the economic downturn.

Barbara Harsha says seat belt use reaching a record high of 83 percent and an increased enforcement of traffic laws also contributed to the drop.

The safety association cautions the surveys are estimates and the final figures could vary.


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(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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