Traffic fatalities at the end of last year declined to record lows, according to the U.S. DOT. There were just 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) — down from 1.25 fatalities per 100 million VMT just a year earlier.

The news dovetails with the formation of a new coalition of highway safety agencies calling for increased funding of state highway safety programs.

The newly created State Highway Safety Alliance and the International Association of Chiefs of Police aim to reduce the number of annual traffic deaths to less than 20,000 by 2030. The State Highway Safety Alliance consists of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expects the final counts for 2009 to be possibly the lowest level ever recorded, despite a slight increase in vehicle miles traveled. Final statistics will be available within the next few months.