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NHTSA Reports Record Increase in Traffic Fatalities in 2012

NHTSA Reports Record Increase in Traffic Fatalities in 2012

By Jeff Youngs, December 27, 2012
A report in the Detroit News says that preliminary traffic fatality data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that between January 1 and September 30, 2012, more than 25,500 people died in motor vehicle accidents on U.S. roadways. The figure represents a 7.1% increase from the same period in 2011, and represents the greatest year-over-year increase during the first 9 months of a year since the NHTSA began keeping records in 1975.

Contrast that increase with Federal Highway Administration data that shows total U.S. vehicle miles traveled rose only 0.6% during the same period, and one might wonder why so many more people perished on American roads in 2012.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) offers several explanations. First, warm weather last winter meant more motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians shared the roads with cars, trucks and SUVs. Additionally, the GHSA explains that when economic conditions improve and gas becomes more affordable, people engage in more discretionary driving.