Traffic Fatalities Increased 9 Percent in First Half of 2012

The data regarding motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities in the United States has fluctuated quite a bit so far in 2012. In May, we saw potentially good news for traffic safety when it was announced that gun deaths outnumbered traffic deaths in Washington, among other states. In July, however, experts revealed data showing that there had been a sharp increase in traffic fatalities in the United States through the first quarter of 2012. Unfortunately, we’re seeing more of the latter now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released troubling new data.

Unexpected Spike in Traffic Fatalities

As a whole, traffic fatalities had shown a relatively steady decline between 2006 and 2011. According to the NHTSA, the first half of each of those years has declined approximately 27 percent overall, from 20,500 in the first half of 2006 to 14,950 in the first half of 2011.

However, the most recent NHTSA data on traffic fatalities from car accidents in the U.S. shows that their estimations from the first quarter of this year have extended into the second quarter.

On Friday, the government released data from the first half of 2012 showing that there has been a 9 percent increase in motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the U.S. from the first half of last year. The NHTSA says this is the greatest increase in fatalities from a previous year since they began collecting the data in 1975.

The greatest increase in history before 2012 was a 6.4 percent increase from 1978 to 1979.

“This news is very disturbing,” says Lon Anderson of the American Automobile Association (AAA). “We have worked decades to reduce fatalities in America, but this is a serious shot across the bow, a warning that as we drive more, our roads may not be as safe as we thought they were.”

What Caused the Increase?

For years, experts in the automotive safety and insurance industries – among others – haveworked to determine the factors that can lead to an increase in accidents, injuries and traffic fatalities.

And while it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the reasons for such a sharp increase, Anderson has pointed out some of the more obvious issues that have a direct impact on driver safety.

First, the AAA spokesman says he believes that the rebounding economy has provided more opportunity and incentive for Americans to spend more time driving on the roadways. It’s not difficult to make the connection between more drivers on the roadways and an increase inautomobile accidents and, subsequently, traffic fatalities. But he also says the recent economic downfall has had a lasting impact on the conditions of many of our highways and roads.

“Another likely contributing factor to these fatalities is the continued deterioration of highways and deferral of needed maintenance and improvements by federal and state governments,” he added.

What do you think could be some of the additional factors that have led to such a sharp increase in traffic fatalities across the board in our country? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment box below.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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