Last year showed significant safety improvements on many states' roadways, according to preliminary data released by multiple state transportation departments.
In Kentucky, roadway fatalities dropped to the lowest level in 64 years. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials say that preliminary data shows 635 people died on the state's roadways through 2013, down from 746 in 2012. The 2013 level shows the lowest total since 1949, when 573 fatalities were reported.
"We are encouraged by the reduction in fatalities, but firmly believe that one fatality is too many," said American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President and KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock in a statement. "The Governor's Executive Committee on Highway Safety is committed to providing direction on traffic safety issues as we move 'Toward Zero Deaths' on Kentucky's roadways."
Kansas Department of Transportation officials report that there were fewer roadway fatalities in 2013 than in any other year on record, according to preliminary data. KDOT says 344 people died on Kansas roads last year, compared to 405 last year. Before 2013, the lowest year for roadway fatalities in the state was 2008, when 385 deaths occurred.
"One fatality is one too many and we are going to work hard to have this number decrease in 2014," said KDOT Secretary Mike King in a statement. "In Kansas, we strongly emphasize safety in the engineering of our highways and that's an important component to keeping travelers safe."
Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported 527 traffic fatalities in 2013, the lowest reported number since 1944 (which saw one less person die on Wisconsin roadways). When comparing 2013 to 2012, WisDOT saw a 12 percent reduction, as 601 people died on in traffic incidents in 2012.
"There is no single factor we can identify as the main reason for such a significant reduction in traffic fatalities," said WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb in a statement. "Motorists deserve a great deal of credit for saving their own lives and lives of others by slowing down, paying attention, buckling up, and driving sober. In addition, WisDOT and its partners continue to invest funding and resources to improve traffic safety enforcement, education and engineering. These investments are clearly helping to prevent fatalities."
Finally, fewer than 1,000 people died in 2013 on Ohio roadways, representing the lowest number since the state began keeping track in 1936. The preliminary data show that 981 people died on Ohio traffic incidents last year. Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray credited this roadway fatality rate decrease on a number of factors.
"Roadway engineering is getting better, vehicle engineering is getting better and law enforcement is getting better," Wray said in a statement. "When you combine all of those, you get safer roadways for the traveling public and more people making it home safely to their families each day."