Traffic fatalities on American roads appeared to have hit a high mark back in 2005 for the United States, according to federal research studies that track this sort of thing – at least until now. According to recent reports released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. road deaths jumped 3.3% (33,561) in 2012.
Sadly, hardest among these tallies are motorcycle riders: motorcycle traffic accident deaths have risen three years in a row even though the total number of road miles driven has not changed much. Many are pointing to the lack of mandatory helmet laws in some states as being a contributing factor here.
The good news is that even with the rising number of traffic accidents being reported this year, deaths from traffic accidents on U.S. roadways are at a 60-year low.
“Highway deaths claim more than 30,000 lives each year, and while we’ve made substantial progress over the past 50 years, it’s clear that we have much more work to do,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “As we look to the future, we must focus our efforts to tackle persistent and emerging issues that threaten the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians across the nation.”
- Fatalities among pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year (6.4 percent increase over 2011). The data showed the large majority of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night and many involved alcohol.
- Motorcycle rider fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (7.1 percent increase over 2011). Ten times as many riders died not wearing a helmet in states without a universal helmet law than in states with such laws.
- Large-truck occupant fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (8.9 percent over 2011).
- Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent in 2012, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011. The majority of those crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit.
- The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328, while an estimated 421,000 people were injured, a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011. NHTSA is just beginning to identify distraction-related accidents, and is continuing work to improve the way it captures data to better quantify and identify potential trends in this area.
- Nighttime seat belt use continues to be a challenge. In nighttime crashes in 2012, almost two-thirds of the people that died were unrestrained.
For more information on accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more, check out the Kenneth J. Allen Law Group resource pages dealing with Transportation law as well as blog posts discussing car crashes and motorcycle accidents.