NHTSA Confirms Increase in Traffic Fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report confirmed that traffic fatalities increased by 3.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data indicated that highway deaths increased from 33,561 in 2012, which is 1,082 more fatalities than in 2011. The majority of the increase in death, 72 percent, occurred in the first quarter of the year, and most of those involved motorcyclists and pedestrians.

The release of this report marked the first increase since 2005, “Highway deaths claim more than 30,000 lives a year, and while we’ve made substantial progress over the past 50 years, it’s clear that we have much more work do to do,” said the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “As we look into 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.”

Americans drove approximately the same amount of miles in 2012 as the previous year, but the number of fatalities increased.

Other key statistics in the report are interesting:

  • Fatalities involving pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year (6.4 percent increase over 2011). A large majority of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night, and many involved alcohol.
  • Motorcycle rider fatalities also increased for the third consecutive year (7.1 percent increase over 2011). Ten times, many riders died not wearing a helmet in states without a universal helmet law than in states with such laws.
  • Large-truck occupant fatalities increased for the third consecutive year (8.9 percent over 2011)–trucking accidents.
  • Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent in 2012, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9.865 in 2011. The majority of those crashes involved drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher.
  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360- in 2011 to 3,328, while an estimated 421,000 people were injured—a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 in 2011. The NHTSA is just starting to identify distraction-related accidents and continues to work to improve the way it gathers data to better quantify and measure potential trends in this area.
  • Nighttime seatbelt use continues to be a problem. In 2012 nighttime crashes, almost two-thirds of the people who died were not restrained.

Looking at each one of these key statistics is a point of lengthy discussion. Frequently, I blog about the importance of safety belts, motorcycle helmets, and avoidance of alcohol when driving. This fatality study confirms many of the things that most of us know:

  1. You should use caution and be attentive when driving.
  2. You should wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
  3. Wearing a seatbelt can save your life.

At The Cagle Law Firm, we see serious injuries and fatalities daily through our client’s personal stories. While auto accidents are called “accidents,” the factors above would suggest that often choices are made that lead to accidents. If choices are made that result in a collision, is it really “just an accident.” If I’m on my phone texting and taking my eyes off the road and running into the back of the person in front of me, is that really an “accident”? Or is it a choice that resulted in a mistake?

At our firm, we believe that when people make choices that result in accidents, then they must be held responsible. Each driver on the road has some “responsibilities,” including not driving impaired, paying close attention to other drivers, and following rules of the road that we SHARE. Failure to do so resulting in an accident that injures another is not fair to the injured person. Taking responsibility is not an easy thing to do, and many feel that you should not be responsible for a mistake. Each accident is different, and different factors and fact patterns determine who is really “at fault” or “liable.” Determining those causes and liability is part of what we do at our firm. Ultimately, a jury can only decide liability, but not all cases go to a jury. The more information/evidence that you have to support your driving behavior before an accident, the better your case. A personal injury attorney may be able to assist you in filing a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim.

If you have been in an auto accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident, you may not know all of the factors involved. Our attorneys are available seven days a week to answer questions and discuss your particular situation and facts. Call today at (314) 276-1681 for your free consultation.

Source: NHTSA Data Confirms Traffic Fatalities Increased in 2012. NHTSA, 11/14/13

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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