An increase in injuries and fatalities on the roads of America could be due mostly to a failure to follow some important safety procedures—but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report in 2012, there isn’t one single issue that accurately explains the increases.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 2012 (FARS) showed that highway deaths increased 3.3 percent to 33,561 fatalities.
Even though there was an increase according to the statistical data in the report, traffic deaths are still reported to be at an all-time low: some of the crashes associated with traditional risk factors even fell, such as the number of accidents involving young drivers.
An article from the New York Times explores some of the reasons for increases in traffic fatalities in the report:
- Of the people killed in passenger vehicles in 2012, 52 percent were not wearing seatbelts. The number of fatalities for motorcycle riders increased for the third year and was 7.1 percent higher than in 2011. In the states with no universal helmet laws the death toll was significantly higher than in states that require riders to wear helmets.
- Deaths increased from 9,865 in 2011 to 10,322 in 2012 for accidents involving drunk drivers. Most of these drivers had double the blood alcohol concentration than that of the legal limit.
- The number of people killed in crashes related to distracted driving—such as the popular “texting while driving”—decreased slightly. But, the number of people injured for this reason increased by nine percent.
- Pedestrian deaths also increased for the third year in a row. Many involved alcohol and happened away from intersections.
In the state of California, there were a total of 2,857 traffic deaths in 2012, with 28 percent of those resulting from alcohol impairment.