Many people may assume with advances in car safety technologies and tougher driving laws motor vehicle accidents would be on the decline. This has been the case since 2006; traffic fatalities reached a nationwide low last year.
Unfortunately, so far 2012 has seen an over 13 percent increase in accident fatalities compared to the same period last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Missouri State Highway Patrol also is reporting a similar increase in Missouri auto accident deaths. Typically the state has about 3,000 accident fatalities each year.
What is behind this trend? Although some may point to causes like distracted driving, another factor that may be to blame is the unseasonably warm temperatures. A spokesperson from AAA explained, “While it is likely not the only factor involved, AAA agrees that warmer-than-average winter weather may have contributed to higher vehicle miles traveled, and ultimately more fatal crashes.”
The number of U.S. auto accident deaths peaked in 1972, when 54,589 people lost their lives due to motor vehicle accidents. A variety of improvements have contributed to decreasing this number throughout the past few decades including changes in driver behavior, advances in technology and increased enforcement of driving laws.
If the estimates hold true for the remainder of 2012, however, the U.S. will see the second largest quarterly increase from year to year since such traffic statistics started being recorded in the 1970s.
Hopefully, the increased attention being brought to this issue will put a stop to the recent increase, and traffic fatalities will begin to decline again.
Source: CNN, “U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012,” Jim Barnett, July 23, 2012.