If projections of traffic fatalities for the first 3 months of 2012 prove to be true, it will represent the second largest year-to-year quarterly increase since National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began recording fatalities in 1975. The largest recorded year-to-year quarterly rise in fatalities was a 15.3% increase during the 1Q1979.
Published in the NHTSA pamphlet, Traffic Safety Facts, the study estimates that 7,630 people died in motor vehicle crashes across the country between January and March, 2012… an increase of 13.5% over the 6,720 traffic deaths in the 1Q 2011. The grim statistics also showed a spike of 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled compared to .98 fatalities in the 1Q 2011. The data run counter to the historic declines in deaths over the past 4 years. NHTSA said that total traffic deaths in 2011 were the lowest in 60 years, and the rate of deaths per miles driven was lower than at any time since 1921. Speculation on why the fatality rate increased so drastically during the first quarter of the current year cannot be definitively explained. However, NHTSA proposes that the unusually warm winter the country experienced brought more people on the roads, particularly motorcyclists, than would normally occur during typically colder winter weather.
While preliminary estimates can change once solid data has been recorded, NHTSA says that revisions usually don’t vary significantly from early estimates.
Information used to compile the data for the report is gathered from police accident reports, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and other sources.
NHTSA also indicates that August trends as one of the most crowded and deadliest months on the road for all motorists. So keep your focus on the road, and be aware that many drivers who are taking their final vacation days may not be familiar with the roads they are traveling. Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone, and get proper rest so you won’t be driving tired. Driving for extended periods under the hot summer sun can cause dangerous fatigue. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, light meals and take frequent breaks to help keep alert behind the wheel.