New statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that traffic-related deaths on U.S. roads during the first six months of 2012 increased 9 percent over the same time frame in 2011.
Traffic deaths had been decreasing steadily over the past five years, reports Motortrend, even reaching the lowest rate in 60 years in December 2011. Now that trend has been reversed, with more than 16,200 people dying in road accidents between January and June 2012.
"While it’s too soon to speculate on the contributing factors of any increase in deaths on our roadways, NHTSA is closely monitoring the data," said NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran in a statement.
According to Reuters, the increase in deaths may be attributed to a variety of factors, including texting while driving, inclement weather and rising gas prices. The economy may also be impacting traffic deaths, as drivers are choosing auto repair over purchasing a new car and may be putting off scheduled maintenance due to budget constraints.
Reuters also reports that the final report could take up to a year to complete, so drivers will have to wait for answers.