Motorcycle, Pedestrian Deaths Rise

 
Houston police investigate a three-vehicle wreck that killed one person in January. Texas had 344 more people die in traffic accidents last year than the previous year, the highest increase in the country. (AP)

More than a thousand more people died in U.S. traffic accidents in 2012 than the year before, and nearly a third of those came from Texas, new federal data shows.

The increase of 1,082 road deaths last year amounted to an uptick of 3.3 percent nationwide. Most of the additional deaths were from pedestrians and motorcyclists. Both groups experienced a higher jump in fatalities than people in passenger cars.

Last year marked the first increase in vehicle fatalities in six years.

Preliminary reports from 2013, though, show more encouraging news. Traffic deaths dipped in the first six months of this year, according to a federal report.

Last year’s increase itself is not a surprise to traffic safety experts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated earlier that the numbers were up. But data released Thursday shows exact numbers for the first time and also includes state-by-state breakdowns.

Texas, the country’s second-most populous state, saw the largest jump in number of deaths in 2012. With an increase of 344 traffic deaths over the previous year, Texas had 3,398 people die on its roads last year. That is the most of any state.

The next-biggest increases came in Ohio (106), Tennessee (77), North Carolina (62) and Michigan (49).

By percentage, Vermont saw the biggest increase, at 40 percent. Fatalities there went from 55 to 77. Hawaii (26 percent), Maine (21 percent), New Hampshire and South Dakota (both 20 percent) had the biggest percentage increases after Vermont.

Last summer, Vermont officials stepped up traffic enforcement because of what they called an “epidemic of serious and fatal crash rates” in the first six months of the year. Forty-four people died between January and June of 2012, compared to 55 in all of 2011.

But the 2012 jump also appeared more drastic when compared to 2011, because the state had the fewest fatalities since World War II in 2011. Vermont had more than 70 road deaths each year between 2008 and 2010.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia had fewer deaths last year than the prior year.

Mississippi saw 48 fewer deaths, the biggest decrease in the country. DC had the highest proportional decrease at 44 percent, followed by Alaska with an 18 percent drop.

Road deaths typically vary depending on seat belt laws, drunk driving and speed as Stateline has reported.

 
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