The number of motor vehicle fatalities went down about 1.9 percent in Florida last year, the same decrease recorded nationwide, according to a federal report released Monday.
The analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that highway deaths fell to 32,367 in 2011, a 26 percent decrease since 2005 and the lowest level since 1949.
"In the past several decades, we've seen remarkable improvements in both the way motorists behave on our roadways and in the safety of the vehicles they drive," NHTSA administrator David Strickland said.
Although overall numbers improved for passenger vehicles, fatalities increased among pedal cyclists (8.7 percent), pedestrians (3.0 percent) and motorcycle riders (2.1 percent), the report said.
Deaths also increased among large truck occupants (20 percent). The NHTSA said it is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to gather more information on the large truck data to better understand the increase.
Florida reported 2,398 vehicle fatalities in 2011, compared with 2,444 in 2010, according the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Other key statistics in the 2011 report include:
The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes rose to 3,331 in 2011 from 3,267 in 2010, an increase of 1.9 percent. The NHTSA believes this increase can be attributed in part to increased awareness and reporting.
Fatalities declined by 4.6 percent for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks (including SUVs, minivans and pickups).
The report said researchers tallied the lowest fatality rate since the analysis began in 1998, with 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 1.11 in 2010.
Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 2.5 percent in 2011, taking 9,878 lives compared with 10,136 in 2010.
The data reflected an ongoing trend representing a 26 percent decline since 2005.
Strickland cited the NHTSA's 5-Star Safety Ratings Program as one of the reasons for the decrease in deaths. The program rates car models on safety features and the ability to avoid crashes. He also credited the "Click It or Ticket" and "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" programs.
"Even as we celebrate the progress we've made in recent years, we must remain focused on addressing the safety issues that are continuing to claim more than 30,000 lives each year," Strickland said.