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U.S. Highway Deaths Rose in 2012, But at Historic Low

CBSNews -- Highway deaths in the United States increased in 2012 by more than 1,000 fatalities compared to 2011, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
CBSNews -- Highway deaths in the United States increased in 2012 by more than 1,000 fatalities compared to 2011, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The majority of the 33,561 killed in 2012 were motorcyclists and pedestrians, and 72 percent of the accidents happened in the first quarter of last year.

However, even with the increase in deaths since 2011, highway fatalities over the past five years continue to be at a historic low.

"Highway deaths claim more than 30,000 lives each year, and while we've made substantial progress over the past 50 years, it's clear that we have much more work to do," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Fatalities among pedestrians rose for the third year in a row, with a large majority of pedestrian deaths occurring at non-intersections and at night; many involving alcohol.

Motorcycle rider fatalities also increased for the third consecutive year. Ten times as many riders died not wearing a helmet in states without a universal helmet law than in states with those laws.

Fatalities among bicyclists reached the highest level in six years.

Crashes involving drunk drivers claimed 10,322 lives in 2012 compared to 9,865 in 2011.

The majority of those incidents involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration nearly double the legal limit.

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