Traffic Fatalities Up in First Quarter of 2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that highway traffic deaths increased by 13.5 percent during the first quarter of 2012. This increase is the largest jump in traffic fatalities since 1979. Given that traffic deaths in 2011 were at their lowest since 1949, this recent increase in car accident fatalities is especially concerning.

However, the NHTSA warned that the first quarter results should not be used to draw conclusions about the traffic death rate for the rest of the year. It is not clear why the rate increased, but the weather and a slowly resurging economy are being considered as factors.

Regardless of the cause of the recent increase in traffic fatalities, there are steps you can take as a motorist to protect yourself on the road. The National Safety Council suggests the following:

· Make sure you fasten your seat belt and those of children and pets before starting your car.

· Do not drink and drive. Over 40 percent of traffic fatalities involve alcohol.

· Be aware of your speed. Driving too fast or too slow can increase the chance of an accident.

· Do not use cell phones while driving. There is no safe way to use a phone when driving.

· Be aware of other drivers. If you encounter an impaired driver, make a turn at the next corner, get off at the next exit, pull over onto the shoulder, or blow your horn and flash your lights.

· Obey the rules of the road. Don’t tailgate or engage in other discourteous driving behavior.

· Notify the police if you see someone driving in a dangerous manner.

Defensive driving is your best weapon against traffic accidents. However, if you are injured in a car accident, it is always wise to document the incident fully and immediately seek out the legal advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. They may be able to help you hold negligent drivers accountable for your injuries and obtain damages.