Oct 14, 2014 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC
For the past several years, motor vehicle accidents have been on the decline. Safety experts pointed to advances in safety features on vehicles and advances in engineering of road designs to explain the decline. However, according to two recent reports, the trend in traffic fatalities reversed in 2012 and is starting to climb again.
Auto accident statistics
The National Safety Council issued a report in February 2013 reviewing the preliminary motor vehicle accident fatality data for 2012. The NSC report showed that about 36,200 people died in car accidents in 2012, which is a 5 percent increase from motor vehicle accident fatalities in 2011. The increase marks the first time that traffic deaths have risen since the increase from 2004 to 2005.
The NSC report also showed that auto accidents cost the U.S. $276.6 billion in 2012, including such expenses as property damage, lost wages, medical expenses, lost productivity and increased insurance premiums and payouts. This figure is also a five percent increase from the cost of U.S. motor vehicle accidents in 2011.
Teen driver fatalities
The Governors Highway Safety Association also issued a report in February 2013 analyzing preliminary traffic fatality data. This report focused solely on teen drivers and found a marked increase in teen driver auto accident fatalities from 2011 to 2012. Researchers found that during the first six months of 2012, 240 drivers aged 16 or 17 years old died in motor vehicle accidents. In the first six months of 2011, 202 teen drivers in that age group died in auto accidents. These statistics show that teen auto accident fatalities increased 19 percent from 2011 to 2012 – more than twice the increase in auto accident death across all age groups.
The increase in teen driver fatalities from 2011 to 2012 is the second year these fatalities have risen, which had been preceded by an eight-year span of decreasing death rates of teen drivers in auto accidents. Teen auto accident fatalities rose by 3 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Reasons for the increase
NSC researchers believe that the biggest contributing factor to the increase in motor vehicle accident fatalities is that U.S. drivers logged more miles in 2012 than in previous years. The improving economy meant that more people had more disposable income to allow for travel. Additionally, the mild winter of 2012 encouraged more people to drive at times when severe weather would normally keep them off the roads.
Safety experts also note that the almost ubiquitous presence of cell phones means that more people are engaging in distracted driving behaviors such as using hand-held cell phones or sending text messages while driving. These practices increase the risk of auto accidents.
The simple act of driving carries risks that many do not consider when they get behind the wheel, as the reports on auto accident fatalities demonstrate. If you have been involved in a car accident, speak with a skilled car accident attorney who can help you recover compensation for your injuries.