A mild winter may have contributed to the first rise in car accident deaths in several years. The National Safety Council issued a report indicating that 2012 saw more deaths in motor vehicle accidents than 2011. The number of highway deaths had decreased every year since 2004-2005. There was speculation that the warm winter experienced in many parts of the country led to more cars on the road and consequently more car crashes.
Preliminary data reveals that 2012 car accident fatalities rose by five percent over 2011. An estimated 36,200 people died in car accidents last year. The vice president of the National Safety Council, John Ulczyck, indicated that more miles were driven last year than in 2011. The Council report showed that total miles driven have been on the rise since December of 2011. Americans drove more because of better weather and because the economy had improved over the previous year.
Mr. Ulczyck indicated that part of the increase can also be blamed on the wider use of cell phones while driving and on the absence of proper enforcement of speeding laws. He pointed out that speeding is a factor in one third of all fatal car accidents. While the issue of cell phones and distracted driving has received significant attention recently, the issue of speeding is a long-standing problem that seems to only attract attention in extreme situations.
Car and truck accidents claim thousands of lives and tear families apart every year. An increase in fatal accidents is a serious problem that calls for greater scrutiny from lawmakers and safety experts.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Crash-related deaths up for first time since 2005, report says,” by David Undercoffler, 20 February 2013