Traffic Fatalities On The Rise
After a five year long decline, traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose by 9 percent in the first half of 2012; this comes from preliminary data, which experts are not yet able to explain. 16,290 people were killed in motor vehicle accident between January and June 2012—this is the highest statistic since 2009, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This NHTSA report does not examine the causes of the crashes; analyzing that data could take over a year.
Safety experts are guessing at why traffic fatalities are rising: the weather, the economy, gasoline prices or traffic safety scourges such as the increase in texting or the use of synthetic or prescription drugs are all possibilities. Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for the NHTSA, said in a statement, “While it’s too soon to speculate on the contributing factors of any increase in deaths on our roadways, NHTSA is closely monitoring the data.” 2011 saw
a 60-year low for traffic deaths, after what the NHTSA called a “historic” downward trend. Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said of 2012’s reversal, “We may just be going back to the way it was before.”
The Governors Highway Safety Association urges bans on texting and using any hand-held cellphone while driving, and also advocates mandatory ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers. These devices force the driver to blow into an attachment that will prevent the car from starting if too much alcohol is present. Currently, seventeen states require ignition interlock devices. “Clearly there’s room for improvement in distracted driving – we would like all 50 states to pass texting bans,” Harsha said. “We’d practically eliminate alcohol impaired driving if we could get all offenders to use an ignition interlock.”
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