Traffic accident fatalities for the first quarter of 2012 are way up compared to 2011 – nearly 13.5%. That is approximately 7,630 people dead from as a result of motor vehicle crashes in the just first three months of the year. The statistic that I found to be shocking? More people have died on U.S. roads in three months than U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade.
Why the sudden spike in car accident deaths, after years of steady decline?
- Warmer winter weather may have led to more people driving than a normal winter season, The National Highway and Safety Transportation Administration finds. However, a drier winter across the country seems like it should contribute to the decline of traffic fatalities: rain, snow and ice usually lead to an increase in motor vehicle accidents.
- Limited sunlight during winter months may find more drivers dozing off, especially during dark commutes. Drowsy driving is a big problem for truck drivers in particular, causing nearly 100,000 accidents a year.
- Don’t rule out driver distraction as a possible cause: drivers in the U.S. are dangerously distracted; in 2009, nearly 5,500 people died in automobile accidents attributed to distracted driving.
There is one bright spot for Oregonians: traffic fatalities here in Oregon seem to be down slightly or consistent with 2011 levels, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.