Not long ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had proudly touted the fact that on-road fatalities last year were at their lowest point since 1949, despite there being more cars on U.S. roads than ever. The trend continued from 2010 and looks likely to show even better results for 2011 data when it comes in this fall.
But if 2012′s first half data shows us anything about the trend, it’s that we aren’t likely to see that downward streak continue. Already through the first two quarters of preliminary data of 2012, accident fatalities are up 9.0 percent, or more than 1,200 deaths greater than the first half of 2011. That number far exceeds the 15.6 billion additional miles drivers have traveled through the first half of 2012, or an additional 1.1 percent.
What that means is that the fatality rate is 1.12 per 100 million miles traveled, which is up there with 2009′s figures. It’s still lower than the rest of the early 2000s, though.
What’s causing the upswing? That’s difficult to say, as the NHTSA is still mulling over the figures. Around the country cell phone laws are stricter than ever. But with an economy that’s bouncing back, more teen drivers are joining the fray on roads near you. With youth and inexperience oftentimes comes stupidity that leads to death.
The NHTSA has hoards of analysts recording deaths in the 30 days following traffic accidents, monthly fatality counts, and quick reporting methods that make all this data clearer. What we think would be interesting is for the NHTSA to run a regression based on newly amended teenage driving laws and cell phone laws across the nation against the drivers’ ages to see if younger drivers really are more dangerous than the stereotyped old driver who crashes into a flea market while mistaking the gas pedal for the brake.
What say you? Are you worried about the increase in traffic fatalities? Let us know in the comments section below.