The dark clouds of last year's high gas prices and the economic meltdown may have had a silver lining, the lowest number of highway deaths since John F. Kennedy was president.
The recession and $4 per gallon gas meant people drove less to save more. Experts also cited record high seat belt use, tighter enforcement of drunken driving laws and the work of safe driving groups.
Preliminary figures being released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 37,313 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year. That's 9.1 percent lower than the year before, when 41,059 died, and the fewest since 1961, when there were 36,285 deaths.
The number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.28 in 2008, the lowest on record. A year earlier it was 1.36.
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