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NHTSA: Traffic deaths down by 4.2% in first half of 2013

“While it is too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways,” NHTSA stated, “it should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure."

The Trucker Staff

10/31/2013

U.S. highway fatalities fell by 4.2 percent the first six months of this year, a preliminary report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says.

This reverses an unexpected increase last year. The percentage change in fatalities has been steadily decreasing since the significant 12.3-percent increase projected for the first quarter of 2012, NHTSA stated in a news release today.

The agency reported that an estimated 15,470 people died in all forms of motor vehicle crashes between Jan. 1 and June 30, down from 16,150 traffic deaths reported the first half of 2012.

In terms of deaths per 100 million miles traveled, the rate for the first half of this year was 1.06, down from 1.10 fatals during the same period of 2012.

The fatality rate for the second quarter of 2013 decreased to 1.08 fatalities per 100 million VMT, down from 1.12 fatalities in the second quarter of 2012.

If the estimate holds, road deaths will have decreased 26 percent since 2005 and dropped more than 40 percent since a high of 54,589 deaths in 1972.

The actual counts for 2011, 2012 and 2013, NHTSA noted, “continue to be updated and the ensuing percentage changes between the fatalities for any of these years are therefore subject to revision.”

 “While it is too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways,” NHTSA stated, “it should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure. This is a pattern that has continued through the reported totals for 2011 that show deaths at a 60-year low. In fact, fatalities declined by about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011.”

The statistics came from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), Fast-FARS (FF), and Monthly Fatality Counts (MFC); and from FHWA’s VMT estimates.

FARS is a census of fatal traffic crashes in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a traffic way and must result in the death of at least one person (occupant of a vehicle or a nonoccupant) within 30 days of the crash.

The number wasn’t broken down by vehicle types.

A NHTSA spokesperson told The Trucker that final figures for all types of vehicles won’t be out until next fall. However, they expect to have their final 2012 numbers out next month. “Currently, 2011 is the latest data we have,” she said.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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