Fatality rates may be at a five year low, but data recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that highway deaths in 2012 surpassed those from the previous year. Although there is no clear explanation for the increase, the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported an overwhelming amount of crashes accounting for the overall increase took place in the first quarter of 201272% of these fatalities occurred before March and involved mainly motorcycles and pedestrians.
Not since 2005 has FARS noted an increase in fatalities, but NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland explained it should not cause too much concern. As a public health and safety agency, Strickland said, any increase in the number of deaths is cause for concern. While were seeing some unfortunate trends, were also seeing progress in some parts of the country.
The progress Strickland was referring to reflected improvement in the fatality rates of Mississippi, New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama, and Utah, all of which experienced a significant drop in highway deaths in 2012.
In 2011, Texas ranked the highest in traffic fatalities, with 3,054, followed by California and Florida which saw 2,816 and 2,400, respectively. The three states maintained their positions in 2012 but increased to 3,398 for Texas, 2,857 in California, and 2,424 in Florida.
Other notable statistics from FARS 2012 report include:
- Passenger fatalities increased for the first time since 2002 but remain lower than the 2002 numbers by 34%
- States without universal helmet laws saw 10 times the number of motorcyclist deaths than those states with helmet laws
- Males continue to comprise approximately 70% of all motor vehicle fatalities
- Of large truck occupants killed in crashes, 61% of them involved only a single vehicle
- 31% of total fatalities were related to alcohol-impaired accidents
- Fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving are down 15% in 16 to 20-year-old drivers
- The amount of individuals killed in large truck crashes increased only 3.7%
- Urban crash fatalities increased 4.9% while those in rural locations increased by 2.3%
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx had this to say of 2012s traffic accident statistics: Highway deaths claim more than 30,000 lives each year and while we've made substantial progress over the past 50 years, its clear that we have much more work to do. As we look to the future we must focus our efforts to tackle persistent and emerging issues that threaten the safety of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians across the nation.
Though 2013 data will not be released for some time, an early analysis of the first half of 2013s crash fatalities reflects a decrease from the number of deaths that occurred within the same time frame in 2012.