For the first time since 2005, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has indicated an increase in motor vehicle accident deaths in the United States. The final FARS data, which the NHTSA released last November 14, showed that the country lost 33,561 people in 30,800 fatal crashes in 2012; a 3.3 percent increase from the previous year, which stood at 32,479 from 29,867 fatal crashes in 2011.
This slight increase came after the U.S. saw a significant decline in the number of motor vehicle crash deaths over the past six years. In fact, the crash deaths for 2011 were the lowest since 1949. Before the NHTSA released its final accident data for 2012, the traffic safety agency issued a projection earlier this year estimating that the number of deaths for that year will be 34,080.
The increase in the number of crashes and resulting deaths and injuries can be seen over various crash characteristics, particularly in the type of road user. In fact, the 2012 data saw an uptick in the number of large truck occupant, pedestrian and motorcycle deaths. All of them saw an 8.9 percent, 7.1 percent and 6.4 percent increase, respectively, from the previous year.
Alcohol-impaired driving accident deaths also saw a 4.6 percent increase in 2012, claiming at least 10,322 lives in comparison to 9,865 the previous year. The greater part of alcohol-induced crashes involved drivers whose blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15 percent or higher, which is almost double the 0.08 percent legal limit
Conversely, deaths in distracted driving crashes slightly diminished. From 3,360 in 2011, the NHTSA data recorded a total of 3,328. However, the number of injuries in the same type of crashes significantly increased, from approximately 387,000 in 2011 to an estimated 421,000 in 2012; a 9 percent increase.
In a complementary press release published the same day the latest FARS data was released, NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland said that the public health and safety agency “will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local partners to change the way motorists behave on our roadways and build public awareness of key issues that have the potential to save many lives.”
It is truly alarming whenever there are increases in the statistics, but Strickland is showing optimism on the fact that progress is being seen in various parts of the U.S. as far as road safety awareness is concerned. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles vehicle accident lawyer continues to remind motorists in California to exercise safety on the roads, especially during the holiday season.
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