National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Announces Increase In Annual Traffic Fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) recently published annual statistics regarding traffic fatalities, gathered using its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (“FARS”), indicating an increase in deaths resulting from U.S. highway accidents between 2011 and 2012. According to the NHTSA, fatalities increased more than three percent (3.3%) to 33,561 in 2012 from 32,479 in 2011. The first quarter of 2012 accounted for nearly three-fourths (72%) of that increase, which was made up largely of accidents involving pedestrians and motorcyclists. The uptick in deaths is the first since 2005, as traffic fatalities have been steadily decreasing since then and have stayed at historic lows for several years.

Although motorists drove almost the same number of miles in 2011 and 2012, the statistics demonstrate a marked increase in fatalities for various types of drivers. Indeed, motorcycle riders and pedestrians appeared to be the most at risk as motorcyclist fatalities increased about 7% and pedestrian fatalities increased approximately 6%, both for the third consecutive year. Also at increased risk were occupants of large-trucks, for whom the rate of fatality went up 8.9% from 2011. Finally, unsurprisingly, alcohol-related driving deaths rose 4.6% from 9,865 to 10,322.

As this blog has discussed before, distracted driving is becoming an increasingly worrisome problem for America’s motorists. According to the NHTSA, in 2009, more than five thousand people were killed on U.S. highways and another 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The new data suggests that, although distracted driving crashes actually decreased from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012, the problem of distracted driving is not getting better, as the number of people injured in those crashes increased dramatically from 387,000 to 421,000.

According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “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. We must focus our efforts to tackle persistent and emerging issues that threaten the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians across the nation.”

Although over a dozen states enjoyed a decrease in overall traffic fatalities Maryland was, unfortunately, not one of them. Maryland experienced a an increase in total traffic fatalities of 4.1%, from 485 in 2011 to 505 in 2012. However, although eighteen states suffered an increase in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, Maryland saw a slight decrease of .06% as such deaths dropped from 161 in 2011 to 160 in 2012.

If you, your family or friends have been involved an accident in which you sustained injuries at the hands of a negligent driver, you may need legal representation to protect your right to compensation. The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by the negligent driving of another. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.