Traffic Deaths Increase Nationwide in 2012 – First Increase since 2005

The National Safety Council's preliminary estimates show a 5 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities in 2012.

Safer for whom? The National Safety Council’s preliminary estimates show a 5 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities in 2012, but does not differentiate between motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. | Image: National Safety Council

In recently-released preliminary data for 2012, the National Safety Council (NSC) finds that nationwide, motor vehicle fatalities increased five percent from 2011. This is the first increase since 2005. NSC estimates that there were 36,200 motor vehicle fatalities in 2012[1], including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. NSC also notes a five percent increase from 2011 to 2012 in “crash injuries requiring medical attention.” Unfortunately the NSC does not differentiate between motorist, cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

A more useful way to categorize these fatalities would be to break down the different users and make specific recommendations to improve safety for each group. Measures that improve motorist safety, for example, do not necessarily improve safety for pedestrians or cyclists.

In the tri-state region, the percentage change in the motor vehicle death toll varied from state to state between 2011 and 2012:

  • Connecticut:
    • From 2011-2012, motor vehicle fatalities increased 19 percent (tying New Mexico for the third highest percentage increase in the nation).
  • New Jersey:[2]
    • From 2011-2012, motor vehicle fatalities decreased 5 percent.
  • New York:
    • From 2011-2012, motor vehicle fatalities increased 2 percent.

As NSC points out, the true cost of a motor vehicle crash, fatal or otherwise, goes far beyond “devastating human loss.” Motor vehicle crashes “present a significant national cost in lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damages.” NSC finds that motor vehicle crashes that resulted in fatalities, injuries and/or damaged property cost the nation $276.6 billion – up five percent from 2011.

For more information on pedestrian fatalities in the tri-state area, look out for TSTC’s 2012 Most Dangerous Roads for Walking report, coming out soon. 



[1] TSTC regularly uses the pedestrian fatality data available through National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System for its annual Most Dangerous Roads reports. The difference between NSC’s estimates and what NHSTA reports is that NSC “counts total motor vehicle-related fatalities that occur within a year of the crash and NHTSA counts traffic fatalities that occur within 30 days of a crash and only those occurring on public roadways.”

[2] New Jersey reported eight months of data while New York and Connecticut reported 12 months of data.

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