Just as safety authorities were lauding the decrease in automobile driver fatalities and lamenting the unchanged motorcycle rider fatalities for 2011, we get news that traffic deaths have risen overall in Q1 of this year by a whopping 13.5 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts traffic fatalities at 7,360 people, a rise from 6,720 in the same period last year and representing a jump from 0.98 deaths to 1.10 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The National Safety Council has even higher numbers, declaring there were 8,170 deaths the first three months of this year compared to 7,270 last year.

No one is yet sure of the reason for the jump. A portion of the blame has been put on the warmer-than-usual winter that had led to more people driving. Overall mileage was down in 2011 compared to 2010 by 1.2 percent or 35.7 billion miles. But total driven miles of Q1 this year increased just 1.4 percent. This year's number is even higher than the Q1 number from 2010, when 6,690 traffic deaths were reported by the NHTSA, yet it's still less than every year from 2005-2009. The improving economy has also been cited as a factor.

Importantly, though, NHTSA said that due to special factors the fatality rate so far this year "should not be used to make inferences for the fatality rate for the whole of 2012."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 103 Comments
      MotionDesigner
      • 2 Years Ago
      G I WNDER Y sent from my iPhone
      XT6Wagon
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is why you make it Deaths per million miles driven. That way if suddenly twice as many miles are driven, and twice as many people die because of it, you don't freak out that the world is ending. I mean if twice as many people play the lotto, do you freak out when twice as many people win prizes? Or twice as many people lose?
      bizarro7
      • 2 Years Ago
      One word: Texting.
      Hello, Brian
      • 2 Years Ago
      T.E.X.T.I.N.G. - you would be amazed how many people I see driving off the road, into other lanes and doing dangerous things because they almost missed their turn because a text is more important than their (and everyone around them's) safety. Stupid is as stupid does, and sometimes, stupid kills.
        Agilis
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hello, Brian
        I saw an older woman yesterday on a highway I travel to and from work on a daily basis, in the middle lane, looking down at her phone, texting. She was slowing down dramatically as she was looking at the screen. I was thinking about honking the horn to show my disgust but was afraid that'd cause her to jerk the wheel. I wish we could start a movement where if we see someone texting, we could out them but laying on the horn, yelling at them, etc.
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Hello, Brian
        I've almost been hit a couple times by morons texting on the highway.
      jdedelman
      • 2 Years Ago
      I blame telematics. These electronic systems are hideously complex and completely contrary to intuitive eyes-on-road movements to do something as little as change a radio station.
        Ducman69
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jdedelman
        This is just in comparison to last year though, and I don't think we've seen a dramatic shift in technology in just one year. At least not enough to account for a 13% change, as not that many just bought a new car anyway. Most likely there has been some funky weather this year, its usually incliment weather that screws the pooch. We've had flash floods twice now in the last month alone, and of course some vehicle fatalities from people trying to zoom through standing water at 80mph.
      Button
      • 2 Years Ago
      SPEED is killing.......also drunk driving. Texting and eating come very high on the list. And then there's putting on your make-up on the way to work!!!
        debsully69
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Button
        It's not the speed thats killing so much as it's the crappy drivers that are speeding and killing.
      Kwijiboz
      • 2 Years Ago
      8170 people. So, nearly 90 deaths every single day. I know this needs to be reported, but it's surreal that this is discussed in the same way an accountant talks profit & loss. Every single one of those deaths has turned a bunch of people's lives absolutely upside down, in way that you can't possibly comprehend if you haven't experienced an unnecessary death in the family yourself. Keep in mind also there's probably at least double this number of serious but non-fatal injuries over the same period, often left with permanent disabilities. It's worth keeping in mind every single time you get behind the wheel.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kwijiboz
        [blocked]
      OptimusPrimeRib
      • 2 Years Ago
      13.5% more North Carolinians must be driving then.
        Brandon Allen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @OptimusPrimeRib
        Close, it's more like NC drivers have transferred their deadly driving virus across the US. A 13.5% increase in NC drivership would only result in roughly 4% increase of total US fatalities given that they only make up about 3% of the US population. We'd have to look at domestic tourism statistics to see how many US tourist and business visitors NC had this year, which states they were from and see what type of pathogen would allow for the transfer rate needed to infect 13.5% of the US population. I'm guessing it's a mind virus that can be transferred via media coverage of Amendment 1, the tea party activists speaking directly into the camera with their southern accents can make anyone stupid.
          BG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brandon Allen
          Too late, the stupid virus has already infected million, hundreds of millions, in the US. And most of them are allowed to possess deadly weapons - I mean cars and SUVs.
          Carma Racing
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brandon Allen
          Yeah Brandon, those tea party activists are not real smart like the occupy Wall Street bunch.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brandon Allen
          [blocked]
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @OptimusPrimeRib
        As someone who moved from Florida to North Carolina, I can confidently that North Carolinians are not the worst drivers. Even the worst drivers I see here in North Carolina, usually have Florida license plates on their cars. When I see some of the stupid things people from Florida do on the roads here, I don't blame the locals for referring to them as "Floridiots".
      Frank
      • 2 Years Ago
      The improving economy has also been cited as a factor. What improvement are they talking about.
      William
      • 2 Years Ago
      One word: Texting
      eulerckt
      • 2 Years Ago
      No surprise...just read the headlines. More people than ever before simply care about number one. The rest of us are just an inconvenience.
        flagwaver2
        • 2 Years Ago
        @eulerckt
        you hit the nail right on the head...everything else is just details
      Ann Marie Holt
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would love to know how many were either on the phone or texting and or attemping either of these. I bet that is most of the problem.
        Muzzled
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ann Marie Holt
        another good point, now the idiots who text and drive do it covertly, looking for cops and looking down to text
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