The U.S. Department of Transportation released a report showing that highway deaths fell to 32,885, the lowest level since 1949.  The figure represents a 2.9% drop from 2009. 
There are three main reasons given for the drop: Graduated license issuance for young drivers, hands-free cell phone laws and stiffer drunk driving penalties.  In fact, drunken driving related deaths dropped 4.9% in 2010 (to 10,228.)

The report shows that deaths of young drivers have dropped 39% over the last five years, compared to 23% for the population at large.

Americans drove approximately 3 trillion miles last year, about 46 billion miles more than in 2009.

Unfortunately, fatalities did not drop in all categories.  They rose for pedestrians, motorcycle drivers and large truck drivers. 
A new category of causality was introduced in this study, referred to as “distracted driving.”  This includes the activities of dialing a phone, sending a text or other such behavior.  The report attributes 3,092 deaths on this behavior.

Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research at AAA, had the following to say, “Distracted driving has become a much bigger issue in the last few years, (so) the (new) measure will be a better indicator of the true impact distractions have on traffic crashes.”