Highway Death Toll Up in 2002

Highway traffic deaths in the United States last year were at the highest level since 1990.
Based on preliminary government figures, 42,850 people died, 1.7 percent more than the year
before. In addition, more people died in drunken-driving crashes. Alcohol-related deaths
rose 3 percent to 17,970, the third straight increase following 10 years of decline.

Of
those killed last year, 59 percent were not wearing seat belts. Mothers Against Drunk
Driving (MADD) wants states to pass stiffer penalties for repeat offenders and approve
primary seat-belt laws, which allow police officers to stop a vehicle because they suspect
the driver is not buckled up. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have primary
seat-belt laws.

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