U.S. road deaths fall 4.4% in early 2013
Detroit News Washington Bureau
Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that U.S. road deaths in the first three months fell 4.4 percent after rising in 2012, according to preliminary figures.
NHTSA said 7,200 people died in the first three months of the year — the second straight quarterly drop in road deaths. By comparison more than 9,300 people died in the first three months of 2007. Fatalities had jumped 12.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012 — a trend attributed in part to a much warmer than normal winter, which meant more motorcyclists and more drivers were out in general.
The government also lowered its estimate of 2012 road deaths, saying it now estimates they rose 4.4 percent in 2012, not 5.3 percent, but still the highest yearly tally in four years. The government lowered its estimate of 2012 road deaths to 33,780 — down 300 from an estimate released in May.
NHTSA said its estimate of the fatality rate for the first quarter was 1.04 deaths per 100 million miles traveled — the lowest since 2011, when it was 0.98 in the first quarter.
Last year’s rise follows a steady decline in road deaths since 2005, when 43,510 people died. Road deaths are down 26 percent since 2005.
Road deaths in 2011 hit a 60-year-low falling to 32,367.