WASHINGTON, D.C. — Traffic deaths declined and fewer people were killed in alcohol-related crashes on U.S. highways for a second straight year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reported the Associated Press. Some 42,636 people died on the nation’s highways in 2004, a reduction of 248 — or 0.6 percent — from the previous year. Alcohol-related fatalities dropped 2.4 percent, from 17,105 in 2003 to 16,694 in 2004. Safety groups attributed the decrease to all 50 states moving toward a uniform stan-dard for drunken driving and to high-visibility enforcement such as sobriety checkpoints. The decline in traffic deaths for the second straight year came as the number of motorists increased. When measured by the estimated miles driven, the number of deaths per 100 million miles traveled dropped to 1.46, down from 1.48 in 2003. Traffic deaths declined in 27 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The district had the highest percentage decrease, followed by Rhode Island, Minnesota, Montana, and Nebraska. However, traffic fatalities increased 42 percent in Vermont, the biggest jump in the nation, followed by New Hampshire, New Mexico, Alabama, and Oklahoma. Fatal crashes continue to have a staggering cost. NHTSA estimated that fatal highway crashes cost more than $230 billion a year, or about $820 per person. Other results reveal increases in motorcycle fatalities, rollover deaths, and the number of fatalities involving SUVs.

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