The numbers are in, and they show a disturbing rise in traffic deaths through the first nine months of 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there was a 7.1 percent increase in the number of people killed in car crashes, with the total number swelling to more than 25,500 individuals, In Auto News reports.
During that same time period, the number of miles driven in the U.S. also increased, which may have contributed to the growth. The total distance driven by people in the country, as well as other factors like weather, the economy and vehicle maintenance costs, influence discretionary driving and therefore the number of people affected by crashes.
"There is a relationship between the economy, gas prices, driving and fatalities," Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governor's Highway Safety Association, told The Washington Post. "However … other factors may be at play. For example, 2012 had one of the warmest winters on record. That may have resulted in a longer motorcycle riding season and more pedestrian activity and hence, more fatalities."
The surge of traffic deaths in 2012 ends nearly 10 years of decline and has climbed faster than in any year since 1975, NBC News reports.