The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that the nation’s fatality rate in 2004 was the lowest in the 30 years since records were first kept, according to a Transport Topics report. NHTSA’s figures showed that large truck crashes saw fatalities increase from 5,036 to 5,190, while the 31,693 passenger vehicle deaths was the lowest number since 1992. SUV fatalities rose 5.6 percent to 4,735. Passenger car, pickup truck and van-related deaths fell by 834. And for the second straight year, alcohol-related deaths decreased. 42,636 people died on the road last year, down from 42, 884 in 2003. The fatality rate was 1.46 per 100 million miles traveled – a drop of .02. The numbers show an even greater improvement when considering that the total number of vehicle miles traveled increased from 2.89 trillion in 2003 to 2.92 trillion in 2004, according to the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration. There are now 22 states with primary seat-belt laws, as well as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, resulting in the highest seat-belt use ever at 80 percent. The maximum blood-alcohol level for drivers in any state and Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic is .08, after Minnesota’s law took effect Monday.