Fatal accidents that killed motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians helped drive up the number of U.S. traffic fatalities in 2012 for the first time since 2005, according to federal data released recently.
Higher death rates among those who travel the roadways on two wheels or on foot accounted for more than half of the increase, and 28 percent of the total number of 33,561 people killed last year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.The overall death toll rose by 1,802 deaths over 2011, and that total was increased by 657 additional deaths of motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians. The 9,426 deaths of road users in those three categories were only slightly eclipsed by the number of deaths attributed to drunken driving: 10,322.
Each year, more than 3,000 people are killed in crashes that they could have survived because they were not wearing a belt. In addition to the deaths, the NHTSA data showed that nearly 2.4 million people were injured in crashes last year, a 6.5 percent increase from 2011.
The report on 2012 fatalities found that pedestrian deaths increased for the third consecutive year, up 6.4 percent over the previous year. Drunken driving deaths were up 4.6 percent, with the majority of those drivers showing blood alcohol levels above .15, nearly double the legal limit.
With approximately 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2012, this would represent 14.7 percent of overall traffic fatalities, the highest percentage ever. The opinion is that motorcycle deaths are up for several reasons: unseasonably warm winter weather early last year drew more riders out; high gas prices have led to an increase in motorcycle sales and more riders; and states continue to overturn laws that required helmet use.
Another important point that was noted – the increase in deaths was not a reflection of a rebounding economy. The data showed that Americans drove about the same number of miles in 2012 as they had the year before.
We all need to put down our phones, limit our distractions and be safe on the roads! Life is too short!