Fatal car accidents have increased in the U.S. for the first time since 2005. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that traffic fatalities increased by five percent in 2012, with 34,080 people dying in car accidents last year.
The NHTSA said that the increase is most likely due to the improving economy, which leads to more vehicles on the road, and an increase in motorcycle fatalities attributing to the five percent increase. They also noted that 2012 had warmer weather that may have contributed to the increase in fatal car accidents.
The NHTSA said that when the economy improves, there is usually an increase in discretionary driving. Discretionary driving increases the risk of a car accident because it creates more dangerous driving situations on the road.
In addition to the improving economy and weather, the increase in motorcycle accidents last year had a significant impact on the overall traffic fatality rate in the U.S. in 2012. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that motorcycle deaths increased by almost 15 percent last year, citing that approximately 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents last year.
Safety officials said that since traffic fatalities have been the lowest in years, they expected fatalities to increase at some point. Even though officials were not surprised that fatal accidents increased last year, many safety experts are worried that this may mean traffic accidents will continue to increase in the future.
Road safety advocates say that drivers need to be more aware of the dangers behind the wheel, including distracted driving, drowsy driving and other dangerous behaviors many drivers commit.
Source: MSN Autos, “U.S. traffic fatalities rise for first time since 2005,” Douglas Newcomb, May 15, 2013