For decades, federal and state governments, the National Safety Council, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and related organizations have made it their mission to reduce traffic accidents and deaths. And for years, these efforts seemed to be working. According to the CDC, the number of motor vehicle deaths fell from 46,900 in 1990 to 35,900 in 2009. The NHTSA reported a drop in accident-related fatalities in 2010 and 2011, as well, with 2011’s death rate at a low of 32,367.
Tragically, it seems that this positive trend is being reversed. In recent news, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported that it estimates approximately 36,000 motorists died in traffic crashes in 2012. The estimate, if it holds true, will represent a five percent increase in traffic deaths and the first time that the fatality rate has increased in seven years. Injuries requiring medical treatment are estimated to have increased as well.
The rise in injuries and deaths may be attributed, in part, to the fact that Americans have been driving an increasing number of miles since late 2011—perhaps because of the recovering economy.
The CEO of the National Safety Council stated of the estimate, “Although we have improved safety features in vehicles today, we also have new challenges, especially as it relates to teen and distracted driving, that need to be addressed on a national scale.”
Motor vehicle accidents not only cause thousands of needless deaths every year but also cost the county billions—in medical expenses, lost wages, expenses to employers, and damage to property. The NSC estimated that the cost totaled $276.6 billion last year, also an increase from 2011.
We encourage all motorists to drive with caution and put away any distractions. For more tips on staying safe, visit our Avoiding Car Accidents page.