Although we are already nearing the end of 2013, it takes time to compile national statistics. That's why it was only recently that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its report on motor vehicle crash data from 2012. Unfortunately, the data reveals that auto accident fatalities increased in 2012 for the first time in six years.
Many people in the Bay Area will be particularly troubled to learn that fatal pedestrian accidents increased for the third consecutive year, including a 6.4 percent increase from 2011 to 2012. The rate of bicycle accident fatalities was the highest it has been in six years. Bicycle deaths were up 6.5 percent from their 2011 rate.
It may be impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons why road deaths are on the rise, but the New York Times did include some interesting NHTSA findings in a recent article. Fatal pedestrian accidents primarily occurred in urban areas but not necessarily at intersections. Additionally, fatal accidents involving pedestrians were more likely to happen at night and to involve alchol.
As with pedestrian fatalities, bicyclist deaths were concentrated in urban areas but were "away from intersections," according to the Times.
An analysis of the NHTSA's state-specific data shows that California had 41 more traffic fatalities in 2012 than in 2011. That represents a 1.5 percent increase from year to year.
With so many bicyclists and pedestrians here in the Bay Area, these statistics should serve as a wake-up call to safety officials. Any increase in the injury and fatality rate, no matter how small, is a step in the wrong direction.
Source: New York Times, "N.H.T.S.A. Reports Increased Traffic Deaths," Cheryl Jensen, Nov. 15, 2013