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Traffic Deaths Surge in First Quarter of 2012

Overall road fatalities are still well below the record highs of 2005.

By Clifford Atiyeh Jul 23, 2012 10:39AM
Image courtesy of Autoweek.Traffic deaths in the first quarter of this year surged 13.5 percent compared with the same time last year -- a sharp increase but still indicative of an overall annual decline in fatal crashes, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An estimated 7,630 people died from January through March 2012, up from 6,720 during the same time in 2011. It was the second-largest quarterly increase in traffic deaths since 1975; the largest was in 1979.

Still, the results from one quarter aren't enough to drop everything in shock; since the agency began tracking data in 1975, the graphs display a regular seesaw effect. NHTSA said the warmer winter may have caused more people to drive than during a normal winter season -- as a nation, we drove 9.7 billion miles during the first quarter, up 1.4 percent -- but that not enough data exist to make a serious projection for the rest of 2012.

Annual deaths have been down significantly since a peak in 2005, when the agency recorded more than 43,000. In the first quarter of 2006, deaths reached a high of 9,558. In 2011, road traffic declined to its lowest level since 2003, and traffic deaths also reached a low of 32,310, the lowest on national record since 1949. Two particular types of accidents, including veering off the road and crossing over an opposing lane, make up about 55 percent of all fatal crashes.

And if it seems like you're just reading a bunch of numbers on a screen, consider this: More people died on U.S. roads in three months than all the U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade. That's not what we'd call relief.

[Source: NHTSA.]
Jul 23, 2012 3:28PM
well, lets go ahead and give everybody a new cell phone so they can text more and maybe some better quality dvd players so they can watch movies, and a better quality laptop for internet surfing, hell why don't they just put an office desk in the vehicle too so all the braindead idiots can do everything BUT watch the road! roads were a much safer place when we didn't have all this MOBILE garbage. 
Jul 23, 2012 3:11PM
Why the F can MSN not get that "life is so lonely" smuck from trashing these columns? Am I the only one sick of this?
Jul 23, 2012 12:49PM

Drunk drivers each year also kill about 3x more people than handguns do; you don't see that painted all over the media like gun control posts are....

Jul 23, 2012 3:35PM

The increase in traffic deaths is simple to explain with the following observations:


1.  More cars on the road

2.  An aging population

3.  No drivers education in schools anymore

4.  A general increase in the lack of consideration and empathy for others (road rage)

5.  A feeling of immortality and insensitivity about death, largely among younger drivers

6.  Deterioration of infrastructure (roads are falling apart)

7.  More drunk and drug-influenced drivers on the road

8.  Decline in vehicle inspections to find unsafe vehicles

9.  And MAINLY, increase in cell phone use, texting, and other distracted driver behaviors


This trend is NOT due to unsafely built cars.  Cars are safer now than ever before.  It is the driving skills and attentiveness of the driving public that has deteriorated.

Jul 23, 2012 3:56PM
I do not doubt the accidents have grown due to text messaging, mobile phone use  and an aging population that is growing in numbers who are driving longer. Everytime I blow my horn it is due to a cell phone issue or an elderly person behind the wheel. The other day I saw a woman verring into me who was on the phone and putting her mascara on while driving.
Jul 23, 2012 1:18PM
More people are also texting and driving.......not a good thing!
Jul 23, 2012 3:27PM
Sound like we need to outlaw autos not guns.  The carnage!
Jul 23, 2012 3:49PM
The numbers will continue to rise until we do something about the distractred driver.
Jul 23, 2012 3:27PM
Is the government going to take away our cars and enforce background checks on all drivers because cars are a "lethal weapon".   They keep trying with our guns......
Jul 23, 2012 1:44PM
  Where's Bloomberg and Feinstein calling for a ban on automobiles ? There's just to many deaths and injuries attributed to the average citizen driving a car ! Don't they realize 10 times more people are killed by cars than by guns every year ? Cars belong only in the hands of skilled professionals. Oh that's right, Bloomberg and Feinstein only ride in chauffeur driven automobiles.  For some reason, I see a comparison with their call for strict gun control while they are surrounded by armed security at all times to protect THEIR life.
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