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Traffic fatalities increase nine percent in first half of 2012

A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that traffic fatalities have increased by nine percent during the first half of 2012. This is the largest percentage increase from a previous year since data has been compiled on this issue.

Authorities began recording nationwide statistics for traffic fatalities in 1975. The recent nine percent spike is the highest since that time, despite significant improvements in safe infrastructure and in the cars themselves. The American Automobile Association (AAA) called the newly released statistics alarming.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added an important reminder when releasing the report, saying that the baseline for comparison was very low due to the overall downward trend in traffic fatalities. While this was the biggest percentage increase year over year, fatalities are still down 27 percent from the record-setting year in 2006.

A spokesperson for AAA said that one contributing factor may be the increase in the total number of cars on the road, along with the ongoing deterioration of highways across the country. Federal highway authorities have released data showing that people are driving more, with about 15.6 billion miles logged by drivers in the first six months of this year. That is a very small 1.1 percent increase from last year, but still shows a general upward trend in the amount that Americans are driving.

Federal safety regulators have been calling attention to the serious safety threat of distracted driving in recent years, as more and more drivers are reported to be using cellphones to talk, text, and email while behind the wheel.

Source: CNN, “Traffic fatalities up 9% in first half of 2012,” Jim Barnett, Sept. 28, 2012.

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