The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a "significant increase" in traffic fatalities for the first three months of 2012, as compared to the same period last year. Over 7,600 people lost their lives, a 13.5 percent increase, in first quarter 2012.
Almost one thousand fewer fatalities occurred over the same period in 2011. NHTSA cautions against speculating on the reasons for this troubling increase. Fatal car accidents in Somerville or any community are disturbing, but no definitive factors have as yet been identified.
Traffic safety experts correctly remind everyone that the car crash fatality rate typically increases in the first quarter because of the winter weather challenges. However, others also point out that winter 2012 was consistently mild, devoid of many serious storms. However, AAA also points out that milder weather usually means more drivers are on the roadways. The increased traffic fatalities may be a result of many more cars on the road than typical in winter. But, AAA also concedes that if this is a factor, it is probably not the only--or even the major--factor.
These preliminary figures would equal the second largest quarterly increase since the government started keeping track of traffic fatalities in 1975. Other data indicate that the most traffic fatalities in the U.S. occurred in 1972. However, since the 1970s, changes in driving behavior and tighter enforcement of laws, have helped improve safety. Newer vehicles are also complete with numerous safety improvements and manufacturing techniques.
Do you believe these increased traffic fatalities are a fluke or a disturbing trend? Do you have any suggestions to make drivers and passengers safer on the road?
Source: CNN, "U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in first quarter of 2012," Jim Barnett, July 23, 2012
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