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Traffic Deaths in California Declined in 2009
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Nationwide, traffic fatalities in 2009 declined by so much, it hit the lowest level since 1950. Still, 34,000 deaths on the road doesn't mean the problem is solved, but things could be heading in the right direction as more people buckle up, car safety features improve and roads receive better design, according to the federal government. But the question remains how much the recession affected these numbers. Even the feds acknowledge that "discretionary driving has likely been reduced due to economic conditions. These are trips--like going out in the evening--that don't involve the daily commute, and they tend to be higher risk."
Overall, traffic fatalities dropped by 10.3% in California, or from 3,434 deaths in 2008 to 3,081 last year, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
DUI deaths dropped for the fourth year in a row (950 in 2009 vs. 1,298 the year before) and motorcycle deaths also declined for the first time since 1998, ending an 11-year, 175 percent increase (they saw a 29.6 percent, from 560 in 2008 to 394 in 2008).