A federal report out today says Iowa’s among only four states that saw a 25-percent or more decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths over the past half-decade. Bob Thompson, spokesman for the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says the most recent numbers are the best yet for Iowa. In 2002, there were 101 alcohol-related traffic deaths in Iowa, the lowest number on record. He says that compares to a high of 290 alcohol-related traffic deaths statewide in 1970. Thompson says Iowans are getting the message about the lethal dangers of mixing alcohol and driving.In addition to sturdier vehicles and improved safety devices like airbags, Thompson says a variety of public education campaigns and programs like the designated driver have shifted opinions about alcohol.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report calculated the fatality rate per 100-million miles driven. South Carolina had the largest increase in its death rate during the five-year period, followed by Kansas, South Dakota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. The states with the most alcohol-related deaths per miles traveled were Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Nevada and Louisiana. Four states — Vermont, Indiana, Oregon and Iowa — saw their rates fall by 25 percent or more.
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