CHICAGO
02/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Traffic Deaths Down 16 Percent Last Year: IDOT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Transportation officials in Illinois say 16 percent fewer people died on the state's highways last year, and higher fuel prices should get some of the credit.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says 1,042 died in traffic-related wrecks in 2008. That's down 206 from the previous year.

Mike Stout of IDOT's safety division says Illinoisans drove about 4 percent fewer miles last year. He suspects that may be partly because lofty gasoline costs encouraged many to conserve by either driving less or slower.

Stout says Illinois highway crashes killed 92 teenagers last year. That's down 63 from 2007.

Highway fatalities in many other states also dropped last year, with officials widely crediting higher fuel costs as a contributing factor.