From 2005 to 2011, motor vehicle accident fatalities steadily dropped. In 2012, that trend came to a halt as car accident deaths rose by roughly 5 percent from 2011. The National Safety Council released a report on Tuesday indicating that 2012 saw an estimated 36,200 deaths caused by vehicle crashes. The information is still being analyzed, but speculation has already begun as to why the number increased for the first time since 2004 to 2005.
The vice president of the National Safety Council pointed out that Americans drove more miles in 2012 and that more miles driven would naturally lead to more crashes. He suggested that the mild winter conditions nationwide in 2012 may have caused the increase in miles driven. While poor winter weather increases the likelihood of an accident for the cars on the road, it also keeps many people off the road altogether. Mild winter conditions also may have contributed to a spike in motorcycle deaths.
The total cost of motor vehicle accidents is staggering. According to the NSC, $276.6 billion in costs, including lost wages, vehicle repairs, lost productivity, medical expenses, insurance and more, resulted from wrecks in 2012. That number is also an increase of 5 percent from 2011.
The National Safety Council numbers will likely differ slightly from the highway death figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The two groups use different time periods following an accident to determine fatality statistics.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Crash-related deaths up for first time since 2005, report says," by David Undercoffler, 20 February 2013