Through the years, Clark and Steinhorn, have examined trends in Maryland and nationwide associated with automobile, truck, bus and motorcycle crash deaths. For the most part, the examination has been encouraging, as fatalities in motor vehicle accidents have consistently declined. Until 2012.
2012 saw a substantial increase in accident mortality and the inevitable question is, why? The answers aren't so readily apparent, although the most common-place answer is that the economy is on the upswing and that means more drivers and more miles driven.
This response however is unduly simplistic and doesn't explain why traffic fatalities went down in 2010 and 2011, when the economy substantially improved over 2008 and 2009. It also doesn't explain why the data suggests that the same number of total miles were driven in 2012 as 2011, when crash deaths declined to the lowest level in 62 years.
An examination of the recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data reflects an overall increase in crash deaths of 1,082. The reported information shows the first such increase since 2005.
Plunging into the numbers some things stand out. More pedestrian crash deaths, more alcohol-related crash deaths, more motorcycle crash deaths and more large truck occupant deaths.
Three characteristics also loom large:
1. Motorcyclists not wearing helmets at the time of their crashes were ten times more likely to die then their helmet-wearing counterparts.
2. Night time seat belt users were far less likely to die, as 2/3's of night time fatalities were unbelted.
3. Alcohol is a major causative element in both pedestrian accidents and vehicular crashes.
The bottom line buckle up, wear your helmet and do not drink and drive.