National Safety Council Numbers Show First National Increase in Traffic Fatalities Since 2005

AASHTO Journal, 22 February 2013

Preliminary estimates show that there were approximately 36,200 traffic deaths in 2012, marking the first increase since 2005, according to an announcement Tuesday by the nonprofit organization National Safety Council.

“NSC is greatly concerned with the upswing in traffic fatalities on our nation’s roads,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC’s president and CEO, in a statement. “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. We must work together now to reverse this latest trend to prevent needless tragedy.”

NSC found that there was a 5 percent upsurge from 2011 in both motor vehicle fatalities and crash injuries requiring medical attention. The total number of miles driven nationwide has increased since December 2011 and that might account for the rise in fatalities, according to NSC.

There was also a 5 percent jump from 2011 in estimated combined cost for such factors as lost wages and productivity, medical fees, administrative expenses, employer disbursements, and property damage, according to NSC. That organization estimates that the total cost in 2012 was $276.6 billion.

As NSC underscored in releasing its information, the numbers comprising its estimates are not comparable to the figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NSC tallies deaths that occur within a year of an accident – consistent with data from death certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics – and includes both those that happen on public roadways and private property. NHTSA, on the other hand, counts just fatalities that take place within 30 days of an accident and on public roadways. NSC also noted that its estimates at this time are provisional and may be revised once more data becomes available.

The three-page “NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates” is available here​.

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