NHTSA: U.S. Highway Fatalities Rose In 2012

 Ended Longest Streak of Declines In Nation's History

By Christina Bramlet, PropertyCasualty360.com

May 6, 2013

May 6, 20 The number of people killed on U.S. highways rose in 2012 to end a run of six consecutive declines, which was the longest streak in the nation’s history.

Crash fatalities rose 5.3 percent to an estimated 34,080 from a year earlier, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today in a report. The jump coincided with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s campaign against distracted driving.

The fatality rate, or the number of people killed for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), rose also, from 1.1 in 2011 to 1.16 in 2012. The estimated fatality rates per 100 million VMT during the first, second, and third quarters of 2012 were 1.09, 1.13, 1.22 and 1.19, respectively.

Although the NHTSA previously pointed to declines in death rates as evidence of success in promoting safety even when absolute numbers rose, it offered no explanation for last year’s increase. The agency did, however, note the preliminary nature of these numbers and that final figures will be released later this year.

One possible factor in the overall uptick is the increase in motorcycle deaths. In a report issued last month, the Governors Highway Safety Association said that motorcyclist deaths increased about 9 percent last year to more than 5,000.

The Federal Highway Administration says the increase in fatalities outpaced a 0.3-percent rise in the number of miles driven in the U.S. The number of people killed in 2012 on U.S. roads was the highest since 2008, which was the third of six consecutive years of declines.

The U.S. government has tracked deaths on U.S. roads since 1899, when 26 people died in motor-vehicle crashes.


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