Highway Deaths at Lowest Levels Since 1950s

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The Transportation Department said Thursday that traffic fatalities have dropped to their lowest levels since the group started keeping records in 1954.

Government officials say 34,000 people were killed in car crashes nationwide in 2009. That's down nearly 9 percent from the year before and down 22 percent from 2005.

The decline in deaths has been attributed to the dismal economy.

"Part of it is that people are driving less," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told ABC's Good Morning America. "And I think people are not in their car as often as they once were because of the economy."

Advertisements regarding the dangers of drunk driving and driving without a seat belt may have also helped curtail driving deaths last year.

The public can expect to see more ads about the deadly practice of talking on the cell phone and texting while driving.

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