Report: Traffic deaths at lowest levels since 1950

Well, Tom Brady may have started out his day with a two-car wreck in Boston - a minivan ran a red light and smashed into his Audi sedan, according to reports - but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today that traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels in 60 years.

In 2009, the number of Americans dying on U.S highways fell to 33,808, down 9.7 percent from the previous year and the lowest tally since 1950.

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Forty one states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, saw a decline in fatalities, led by Florida. Maryland had 547 traffic fatalities in 2009, compared with 591 in 2008, a decrease of 7.4 percent.

"At the Department of Transportation, we are laser-focused on our top priority: safety," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  "Today's announcement shows that America's roads are the safest they've ever been.  But they must be safer.  And we will not rest until they are."

The report said traffic fatalities declined nationally across all categories of vehicles, including motorcycles. Motorcycle deaths fell for the first time in 11 years.

In addition to the drop in fatalities, the number of injuries decreased as did the number of alcohol-related fatalities. However, in Maryland, the number of alcohol-related fatalities actually increased by 12 percent - from 145 to 162. Other states that saw increases in alcohol related highway deaths included Vermont, Kansas, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Washington.

The nine states that saw an increase in highway traffic fatalities overall were Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.

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