After years of declining numbers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released data that shows that there has been an increase in fatal car accidents in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time last year.

The study found the number of people who were killed in traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2012 was about 7,600, or almost 1,000 more than 2011’s total of 6,700. This increase is roughly 13.5 percent.

This is the first time fatalities from the year’s first quarter have increased since 2006, when about 9,500 fatal crashes took place. However, the number of miles driven by motorists from 2011 to 2012 increased by 1.4 percent, or more than 9 billion. As common sense would indicate, more traveled miles make the number of traffic crashes rise, according to AAA.

According to authorities from the NHTSA and the AAA, the cause could be the fact that people were driving more this winter because of the warmer conditions, which typically brings more people out on the roads. With an increase of drivers on the roads, the number of fatal crashes would increase.

The AAA director believes that the numbers prove there is a need to make sure driver safety is at the forefront. Many laws to increase traffic safety and improve driver behaviors were put in place after 1972, which marked the deadliest year for drivers. Then, accidents claimed more than 54,000 lives.

If the numbers for 2012 hold, it will mark the second largest quarterly increase from year-to-year in fatal traffic accidents since 1975.

Source: CNN, “U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in first quarter of 2012,” Jim Barnett, July 23, 2012

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