The safety community was celebrating not long ago because traffic fatalities in 2011 had dropped to the lowest level since 1949, but that decline did not last for long.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released statistics for the first half of 2012 and found a nine percent increase. Last year, 32,367 people died in automobile crashes.
The answer is fairly simple, according to some analysts. More Americans are on the roadways. Americans were driving 1.2 percent fewer miles in 2011 compared to the previous year. In the first half on 2012, the number of people on the road increased by 1.1 percent. Part of the reason was the unusually warm weather that encouraged people to travel more.
There was some good news in the new report. Fatalities caused by drunken driving decreased. However, distracted-driving deaths went up by two percent, and bicycle, pedestrian, motorcycle and large truck accidents all increased.
Even with this unfortunate news, the roadways are getting much safer. Fatality rates dropped 26 percent from 2005 through 2011, but it’s important that the downward trend continues.
The Transportation Department said focusing on seat belts, drunken driving and distracted driving will continue to be a priority to prevent deaths.