While new vehicles continue to sprout ever-increasing numbers of safety features, traffic fatalities still hit a 15-year high in 2005, notching 43,200 fatalities according to a recent release by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). This represents an increase of 1.2 percent over 2004, while miles traveled only increased by 0.03% to a jaw-dropping 2.964 trillion. The projected death rate is still only 1.46 per 100 million miles traveled, which is only a slight increase from the record low of 1.44 in 2004 (which suggests that most means that motorists should spend less time worrying about automotive safety and put more effort into improving their health).

Deaths in passenger cars fell by approximately 2 percent, while SUVs and light trucks saw a 4 percent increase in body count. The motorcycle death toll jumped by 7.7 percent last year and has now doubled in less than a decade. Tellingly, two-wheelers now account for nearly 10 percent of all traffic deaths. 

Seatbelts are now used by over 80 percent of drivers, but fully 55 percent of those who died in a car crash were not using one.

Related: Distracted driving may account for most accidents

[Source: The Detroit News]