Mild Winter May Have Contributed to Rise in Traffic Deaths
For many people throughout the upper Midwest and the Northeast parts of the United States, the mild winter of 2012 came as a pleasant surprise; lower heating bills and the ability to get outside without battling two feet of snow. However, despite the nice weather, the mild winter came with, unfortunately, higher traffic fatalities.
According to estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of traffic fatalities for the first three months of 2012 rose significantly, about 13.5 percent, over the same period in 2011. The NHTSA says that approximately 7,630 people were killed during the first part of this year, breaking a six-year trend of decreased fatalities during the first quarter. Before the rise in deaths during the first quarter of 2012, car accident deaths had fallen from over 9,550 in 2006 to just over 6,700 in 2011.
While not the sole factor for the rise in deaths, Jacob Nelson of the Automobile Association of America believes the mild winter was a contributing factor. He said that drivers may drive more during "warmer-than-average winter weather." And, statistics released by the Federal Highway Administration back up Nelson's hypothesis that drivers not forced to battle the elements of snow and ice will drive more..
Data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that the number of miles driven during the first quarter of 2012 rose by 9.7 billion miles over total amount driven during that same period of 2011 - a 1.4 percent rise.
It remains to be seen whether this upcoming winter will be as mild as the last and whether auto accidents will again rise.
Source: CNN Travel, U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in first quarter of 2012, Jim Barnett, July 23, 2012