Traffic fatalities had been declining during the last seven years in Ohio and throughout the country. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Fatal car and motorcycle accidents increased in 2012, according to a new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA said that 2012 had the highest traffic fatality level since 2008, with the total number of fatalities in 2012 reported at 34,080. In addition to the overall traffic fatality rate increasing, the number of fatal motorcycle accidents also increase in 2012 by nine percent.
The NHTSA said that there were several factors that contributed to the increase in traffic fatalities. They said that the improving economy led to more accidents because when the economy is better, people drive with less discretion. They also said that distracted driving play a role in the increase as more drivers are becoming distracted by numerous electronic devices and other distractions while they are behind the wheel.
The increase in fatal motorcycle accidents was more disturbing since it represented almost 15 percent of all traffic fatalities reported in the U.S. In fact, 2012 had the highest rate of fatal motorcycle accidents ever, causing concern for traffic and motorcycle safety advocates as well as government officials.
The NHTSA said that the increase in motorcycle fatalities could be attributed to many reasons, including warmer weather and high gas prices leading to more motorcyclists on the road. They also noted that several states have repealed their mandatory helmet use laws, which can lead to more serious and fatal injuries for motorcyclists who are not wearing a helmet.
While the NHTSA is focusing on reducing all types of traffic fatalities, motorcycle safety advocates are focusing on reducing motorcycle accidents. Many groups are raising awareness of motorcycle safety issues during this month, which has been named National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The groups are trying to inform riders about potential dangers and safety precautions to take while riding to reduce the risk of being in an accident.
Source: NBC News, "US traffic deaths rise for first time since 2005--motorcycle rate a big contributor," Michael Strong, May 9, 2013