Fatal car accidents increased for first time in seven years
Fatal car accidents increased by five percent in 2012, according to the National Safety Council. Car accidents that required medical care also increased by five percent last year. This is the first time fatal traffic accidents have increased in the last seven years in the U.S., making safety officials question why deaths increased last year.
The National Safety Council said that the increase could have been partially caused by more people driving last year and the mild winter, which makes it easier for people to drive. However, this is only part of the reason why fatal car accidents increased last year.
Research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute showed that when the economy improves, people drive more. They also found that they drive differently, which can contribute to more serious and fatal car accidents. When the economy is better, people drive faster, more people drive on rural roads and there are more heavy trucks on U.S. roads. All these factors contribute to an increase in fatal car accidents.
Another main reason fatal car accidents increased last year was attributed to distracted driving and other unsafe driving behaviors. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said that many drivers are still texting while driving, not wearing their seat belts and driving intoxicated.
Safety advocates say that despite new vehicles being safer for drivers and passengers, federal programs and safety officials need to focus on raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, drowsy driving and drunk driving to try and reduce car accident fatalities in the future.
Source: WRAL, “Safety Council: Traffic deaths surged in 2012,” Joan Lowy, Feb. 19, 2013