If your daily commute seems to have gotten more perilous recently, you might not be imagining things.
The number of traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2012 soared by nearly 14 percent, resulting in nearly 1,000 more deaths on the nation’s roads.
Tuscaloosa personal injury attorneys may see an uptick in all types of accident cases as the economy improves. While the federal government and safety advocates have trumpeted declining traffic fatality numbers throughout the downturn, many economists predicted those numbers would soar again with economic recovery.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 7,630 people died in motor vehicle accidents during the first three months of 2012. That’s up 13.5 percent from the 6,720 fatalities reported during the same period one year ago. If the estimate holds true, it would be the second-largest quarterly increase in traffic fatalities since the government began keeping modern records in 1975. First-quarter results had been declining since 2006, when 9,558 motorists were killed through March 31.
“It’s too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any increase in deaths on our roadways,” said an NHTSA spokesperson.
Another reason for the uptick could have been an unseasonably warm winter, according to safety experts. Otherwise, those first-quarter stats may not bode well for the rest of the year. Historically, the first-quarter has been the safest, in part because winter weather reduces the number of motorists on the road. Significantly higher fatality rates are usually seen throughout the remainder of the year.
The upcoming season, in which kids head back to school and snowbirds head south for the winter, typically sees a deterioration in driving condition due to the onset of winter in much of the country. And that increases everyone’s risks heading into the busy holiday travel season.
While acknowledging a warmer winter could have been a contributing factor, AAA notes there is plenty of work to be done in reducing the major risk factors for auto accidents, including distracted and impaired driving.
As we reported previously on our Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, Alabama was recently ranked the third-deadliest state in which to drive.
We can all do our part to stay safe this summer. To that end, the NHTSA recently issued a summer travel advisory, which offered advice on preparing your vehicle for travel, ensuring the safety of children, and practicing safe driving habits behind the wheel.
Keeping an emergency roadside kit in your trunk is also a great idea. Far too many motorists underestimate the danger of breaking down on the freeway. The government recently reported that more than 10 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents occur on highways, freeways and other non-pedestrian areas where motorists are typically stranded after suffering a breakdown.
Items in your roadside kit may include, first aid supplies, flashlight, flares, a white flag, jumper cables, equipment for changing a tire, work gloves, basic tools, extra windshield washer fluid, nonperishable food items and bottled water.
U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in first quarter of 2012, by Jim Barnett, CNN, July 23, 2012.
Tuscaloosa Car Insurance Policies: A Look at Swartzbaugh v. Encompass Ins., Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, May 10, 2012