An alarming spike in traffic fatalities is being studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A statistical projection shows a 13.5 percent increase in traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2012. Previously, in 2011, fatalities are projected to have declined in all four quarters. If these latest projections for 2012 are realized, it will represent the second largest year-to-year quarterly increase in fatalities since NHTSA began recording traffic fatalities in 1975.
Although it is too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any increase in deaths on our roadways, it should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years are at a 60 year low which means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure. In fact, fatalities during the first quarter of the year have actually declined by 30 percent between the years of 2006 to 2011 (from 9,588 fatalities in 2006 to a projected 6,720 fatalities in 2011). An analysis of the recent decline in fatalities that began in 2008 revealed that a significant portion of the declines were driven by drops in crashes involving young drivers.
Traffic fatality rates are calculated based on the number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts – July 2012