Traffic deaths in the US have hit their lowest point since 1954 according to the US Department of Transport (DoT).

Nearly 33,963 people died in motor vehicle traffic in 2009, down by 8.9% from the 2008 death toll of 37,261 people.

The 2009 fatality rate was 1.16 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled (VMT), the lowest on record and down from 1.25 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2008.

The figures for 2009 also show a decline in the death toll for the 15th consecutive quarter.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said although the new figures were pleasing there were still too many deaths on the road.

The figures are based on early estimations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by collecting data from all states, with the final updated report expected to come in the summer of 2010.

According to NHTSA, the improvement is down to factors such as high visibility campaigns to increase seat belt use, prevent drunk driving, curb speeding, as well as safer roads, safer vehicles and motorists driving less.