Traffic fatalities across the U.S. were up 13.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011. This means traffic fatalities for the year are on pace to make this the second largest increase year-to-year since 1975.
National and local government agencies and non-profits that have been working to reduce distracted driving and impaired driving and improve safety are not sure why fatalities so sharply rose. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it is too early to say what factors contributed to the increase, but it may have to do with the unseasonably warm winter weather that occurred across the U.S. this year. When the weather is warmer, people tend to get out and drive more, and more driving leads to more car accidents.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, people traveled 9.7 billion miles more during the first quarter of 2012 than in 2011, which is an increase of 1.4 percent more miles traveled.
In 2006, 9,558 people were killed in traffic accidents in the first quarter of the year. Fatalities continued to drop in the period from January to March, until this year. This year 7,630 people died in the first three months of the year. In 2011, 6,720 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the first quarter. The largest number of motor vehicle accidents fatalities in a year was in 1972 with 54,589. Since then numbers have been falling, and it is yet to be determined why they suddenly went up again.
Source: CNN Travel, "U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in first quarter of 2012," July 23, 2012