On Nov. 14, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed that deaths related to motor vehicle accidents increased in 2012, the first rise in traffic accident fatalities since 2005.
The information is based on the final review of data for the 2012 Fatality Analysis Reporting System. According to the report, there were 33,561 accident-related deaths in 2012, an increase of 1,082 fatalities over 2011.
More than 70 percent of the deaths occurred in the first quarter of 2012, and most of those involved motorcycle accidents or collisions with pedestrians. Fatalities in drunk driving-related accidents also rose in 2012, up 4.6 percent from the previous year.
The NHTSA data for 2012 arrives just weeks after another NHTSA report that indicates a decrease in traffic accident fatalities for the first half of 2013. According to its Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities, the NHTSA’s statistical projection shows that 15,470 people died in motor vehicle wrecks in the first half of 2013, a drop of 4.2 percent from the previous year.
While the NHTSA states it is too soon to speculate on contributing factors to the spike in accident fatalities in 2012 and early drop in 2013, the agency says in its Early Estimate report for 2013 that “it should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure.”
“This is a pattern that has continued through the reported totals for 2011 that show deaths at a 60-year low,” the report continues. “In fact, fatalities declined about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011.”
Still, the agency admits there is much work to be done to further limit motor vehicle accident deaths. Of particular concern are the jump in drunk driving fatalities and accidents related to texting or cell phone use while driving.