By Andrew Thurlow, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (Nov. 15, 2013) — The number of U.S. highway deaths in 2012 rose 3 percent to 33,561 — an increase of 1,082 deaths compared with a year ago — while the number of people killed in distracted-affected crashes slightly decreased, according to new government statistics.
The 2012 fatality analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), released Nov. 14, marked the first increase in highway fatalities since 2005.
The report said distracted-affected crashes killed 3,328 people in 2012, compared with 3,360 fatalities a year ago.
NHTSA said it is just beginning to quantify distraction-related accidents, which are meant to tally the effect of texting, phoning or answering a call while driving.
Despite the reduction in distracted-driving fatalities, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in distracted-affected crashes—a 9-percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
"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," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox said in a statement.
The report also showed that the number of deaths involving drunken drivers increased nearly 5 percent, taking 10,322 lives, compared with 9,865 in 2011. The majority of those crashed involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration that was nearly double the legal limit.
This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.