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Car Accident Fatalities Increased in 2012, NHTSA Data Confirms

Despite monumental improvements in vehicle safety, the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway traffic Safety Administration reports that traffic fatalities increased in 2012 for the first time since 2005. The number of car accident fatalities rose to 33,561, which was 1,082 more than the previous year. Data shows that the large majority of these fatalities occurred in the first quarter of the year and mainly involved motorcycle and pedestrian incidents.

The NHTSA notes that despite the fact that the number of accident-related deaths rose in 2012, “highway deaths over the last five years remain at historic lows.” Even factoring in the small jump in 2012, the fatalities are still consistent with those of the year 1950. Early data analysis from 2013 indicates fatality numbers have fallen once again.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released a statement explaining, “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. As we look to the future, we must focus our efforts to tackle persistent and emerging issues that threaten the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians across the nation.”

Recent Safety Improvements Include
• Significant advancements in airbag design including: side curtain and frontal systems.
• Tougher tests from independent organizations such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (IIHS)
• Tire pressure monitoring systems.
• Blind-spot detecting systems • Electronic stability control systems (especially in SUVs)
• Emergency auto braking system (to avoid head-on and rear-ending accidents)

Read more about IIHS crash safety tests on our blog here

Even with these important improvements, the NHTSA reports that fatalities in motor vehicle accidents are still prevalent. Other data collected and released by the agency for that year shows that there are still areas in auto and pedestrian safety that need improvement.

For the third straight year, pedestrian fatalities have risen significantly. The vast majority of pedestrian fatalities were recorded in urban areas, at night, at a non-intersection, and involving alcohol. Analysis of the data may indicate a necessity for better, more visible crosswalks and traffic lights, and brighter lighting for problem areas at night. In addition, motorcycle fatalities also increased for the third straight year. Motorcyclists are at a much great risk for injury and death because of the lack of protection the vehicle offers the driver. In states where the universal helmet law does not apply, bikers are Ten times more likely to die in an accident. Fatalities also increased in crashes involving large trucks, drunk drivers, and nighttime crashes in which the occupants were not wearing seatbelts.

The Department of Transportation’s focus on eliminating distracted driving in recent years seems to have had a positive effect on drivers in the year 2012. While the NHTSA reports a 9% increase in injuries attributed to these accidents, the number of distracted driving fatalities actually decreased slightly. The agency is just beginning to classify distracted driving accidents and has recently released a jarring commercial targeted to teens.

To read more about the DOT’s push for distracted driving awareness on our blog, click here

Even with the monumental advancements in vehicle safety, there is still work to be done. Car accidents are a part of daily life, and recovery from these incidents can be difficult, but physically and financially. Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident can be extremely painful and life-altering. In some cases, victims may not be able to return to work, putting a heavy strain on already-tight finances. In the worst case, family members must mourn the loss of a loved one. Often they are left to deal with the physical, emotional, and financial aftermath without any assistance. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, Altman & Altman would like to help. Our dedicated attorneys have decades of experience successful handling car accident cases and are available to help around the clock. You should contact a Boston Injury Lawyer right away to find out whether to proceed with this route.

To read the full NHTSA article, click here

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