• 45
Investigators stand outside the burned-out wreckage of ... Investigators stand outside the burned-out wreckage of a limousine on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in California. Five people were killed. (AP photo).
Grim news from America's roads: Across the country, more people are dying in car accidents.

The number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. increased 5.3 percent last year, jumping to 34,080 deaths, according to a preliminary estimate made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It's the first time in seven years the number has increased.

In 2011, traffic deaths had numbered 32,367. The increase had been somewhat expected, as motorists drove 0.3 percent more miles thanks to an improving economy in 2012, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The rise in overall deaths is just one aspect of why experts are concerned.

Traffic deaths are increasing in every conceivable category. They increased in the Northeast (15 percent), South (10 percent) and West (9 percent). They increased in the winter, spring, summer and fall, according to NHTSA.

In recent weeks, we've learned the number of bicyclists killed on U.S. roads increased 9 percent to 677 deaths, according to the latest NHTSA data.

The number of pedestrian deaths has also increased, rising 4 percent to 4,280 deaths in the latest full year for which NHTSA had data, the first time the number has increased in five years. It's been a bloody decade for pedestrians overall: Between 2001 and 2010, a total of 47,392 Americans were killed in pedestrian accidents, according to the Centers For Disease Control.

(By comparison, the number of American military members who have died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is 6,680 through May 6, according to the Department of Defense).

The number of distracted-driving deaths has increased 1.92 percent, killing 3,331 people in the latest year for which data is available, according to a Mortality and Morbidity Report compiled by the CDC.

The number of people dying on motorcycles is up. Way up. Approximately 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2012, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. That would make motorcyclist deaths 14.7 percent of overall traffic fatalities, the highest percentage ever.

"A comprehensive strategy is needed to keep motorcyclists safe," said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the GHSA. "Most crucial in this strategy are universal helmet laws, which 31 states currently lack."

NHTSA is looking to change some safety laws, and is looking for public input on those changes. To check out the proposed changes, follow this link.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      My question is how many of these accidents involve an SUV. SUV drivers are some of the most egregious scofflaws on the road today. My next question is how many of these accidents are caused by a driver high on marijuana? An impaired driver is an impaired driver. Marijuana users are driving under the false sense of security that smoking weed is does not impair a driver. WRONG! The increase of accidents caused by a driver who had marijuana in his/her system is on the rise.
      • 2 Years Ago
      All vehicles should be banned.
      • 2 Years Ago
      What’s to understand? Americans have become "not the sharpest pencil in the box”. Ever seen what’s driving or waking down our streets? Seattle has a new law of making Pot Smoking legal. Now we have Pot Heads smoking while texting while driving. Are not we cool?
      • 2 Years Ago
      yep, now we have 70, 75 and 80 mph speed limits, yes people, speed kills.
        • 2 Years Ago
        yup, simple Physics 101
          • 2 Years Ago
          Physics 101 teaches you that it's deceleration, not the speed, that kills. The problem is the low quality of driver we let on the road. With out the crash, the speed is fine. Other countries have proven this.
      Ron Wizard
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      There are lots of causes: 'Green' cars do not protect occupants as well as gas-guzzling SUVs. All that armor around you weighs a lot, and needs fuel to move it. People who learned to drive in other countries often don't understand our laws, and are not experienced in the kind of traffic unique to the US. The government is causing mass anxiety (unemployment, mortgage crisis, sequestration, etc.), driving more people to drink, which makes more DUIs.
      • 2 Years Ago
      WOW - maybe we should have the govt make cars illegal like they are trying to do with guns. After all, people don't kill people, cars do!
        • 2 Years Ago
        That's why they enact laws like no texting while driving. That's why they are trying to enact a stiffer law on background checks. THEY ARE NOT TRYING TO MAKE IT GUNS ILLEGAL !
      Frank Franks
      • 2 Years Ago
      illegal mexicans , no drivers ed . Sue the government for not inforcing immigration laws
      • 2 Years Ago
      You can attribute the rise in deaths to the newest generation of drivers, the Entitlement Generation. They want what they want, and they want it now. They are in too much of a hurry to be courteous, thoughtful drivers.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Um......could have something to do with the fact that the government keeps making car companies up the fuel economy standards. Thus the cars are becoming lighter and smaller making them less safe.
      • 2 Years Ago
      people need car to instead walk, auto company want to sale more and more vehicle, so the accident cannot be avoided
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is not rocket science. There have been two recent developments that have contributed to an increase in traffic deaths. The advent of texting and the legalization of marijauna. It's not like we couldn't see this coming.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Just as it is not legal to drink alcohol and drive under the influence, it is also illegal to smoke pot and drive under the influence. Besides, the statistics given for 2011 to 2012, were prior to the legalization. As far as the recent uptick in motorcycle and bicycle accidents, well yes, the spring weather is when people start riding both again, after winter has kept them off the streets. Drivers get complacent after not seeing them for many months. HEY! WE'RE OUT THERE AGAIN!
    • Load More Comments