American car accident rate is improving, for now

Federal regulators, auto manufacturers and safety experts depend on statistics to tell them what trends demand their attention. Depending on how statistics are formulated and analyzed, they may also provide answers on how to reverse or encourage certain trends, depending on the outcome desired. In terms of auto fatality statistics related to the past three years, an interesting set of numbers has emerged.

According to learned estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a sharp spike in the number of fatal car accidents in the U.S. occurred in 2012. When the agency’s final numbers are released next month, they are estimated to reveal that road-related fatalities jumped a staggering 8.2 percent last year over the 2011 total. That number represents the first time that U.S. auto-related fatalities have increased over the last six year period.

Thankfully, there is good news accompanying this frustrating and tragic statistic. In 2011, highway fatalities hit a historic low. And following the devastating spike of 2012, the NHTSA predicts that the first six months of 2013 bore a fatality rate far closer to that of 2011 than 2012. Hopefully this positive news is partially resulting from less distracted driving behavior in 2013 than in 2012.

It is critical that the NHTSA and other federal agencies evaluate the final numbers associated with 2012 to determine what went so horribly wrong and how to keep fatality numbers from spiking again. But thankfully, the 2012 numbers seem to be outliers rather than evidence of a trend, at least for now.

Source: The Car Connection, “NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Down 4.2% In The First Half Of 2013,” Richard Read, Nov. 4, 2013

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