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Study: Highway fatalities decline

LAWRENCEVILLE - The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday that highway fatalities in Georgia slightly decreased from 2006 to 2007 while the nation's overall number of traffic fatalities fell to its lowest number since 1992. In the same announcement, the department also said the number of motorcycle riders or passengers killed over the same time period increased.

"Thanks to safer vehicles, aggressive law enforcement and our efforts, countless families were spared the devastating news that a loved one was not coming home," Secretary Mary Peters said in a statement. "But motorcycle safety continues to be a problem."

According to the report, motorcycle fatalities accounted for 13 percent of all traffic-related deaths nationwide and increased 6.6 percent from 2006 to 2007. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of motorcycle fatalities and crashes in Georgia both increased over that time period as well. The report further stated that the number of pedestrians injured in motor-vehicle crashes during the same time period rose 15 percent. Pedestrians killed in crashes decreased by 2.9 percent.

In Georgia, the report said, the number of people killed in motor-vehicle crashes on highways in 2007 decreased by 52 people, a decrease of 3.1 percent from 2006. The report also said that nationwide, 35 states experienced decreases in the number of fatalities. It also said the state with the biggest increase in traffic fatalities was North Carolina, which saw its total fatalities increase by 121 people.

The department added that 2.49 million people were injured in highway crashes in 2007, the lowest seen since injury data began being collected in 1988.