April 21, 2014

By Willard P. Techmeier – lead attorney at the Cochran Firm Wisconsin

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recently reported that the number of people killed in automobile crashes increased significantly in 2012. The new numbers represent the first time there has been an increase in the number of automobile related fatalities in the past six years.

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The NHTSA numbers show that 32,479 people were killed in automobile crashes in 2011. In 2012, that number increased to 33,561, an increase of just over 3%. Injuries also increased from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, about 2.36 million people suffered injuries in crashes compared to 2.22 million people suffered injuries in 2011.

Increase Follows Years of Significant Declines

The number of fatal automobile accidents decreased steadily from 2006 through 2011. In 2005 there were 43,510 fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes in United States. Between 2005 and 2011, fatalities decreased by about 25%. Though the 2012 statistics show that there’s been a slight increase since 2011, the total number of fatalities is still a significant improvement over the 2005 numbers.

Injuries and Fatalities Per Mile Travelled

The recent NHTSA figures also show an increase in the injury and fatality rate per mile driven. In 2011, the injury rate per 1 million miles traveled was 75. This means that for every 1 million miles travelled in a vehicle that year, 75 people suffered injuries. In 2012, the injury rate increased to 80 for every 1 million miles traveled, a rise of nearly 7%.

The fatality rate per million miles traveled also increased between 2011 and 2012. In 2012 there were about 1.14 fatalities for every million miles traveled, compared to 1.1 in 2011.

Fatalities Increase Across the Board

The NHTSA numbers show that fatal accidents increased across the board. The increase affected drivers and passengers of a variety of vehicles, as well as pedestrians and pedal-powered cyclists.

  • Passenger Vehicles. In 2012, 351 more people were killed in a passenger vehicle (passenger cars and light trucks) than died in crashes in 2011. This represents a 1.6% increase, and the first increase in passenger vehicle fatalities since 2002. Passenger car fatalities increased 2.1%, while fatalities suffered by people in light trucks (pickups) increased by about 1%.

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  • Large Truck. Fatalities in large trucks, such as commercial semi-trailers, increased by nearly 9% in 2012 when compared to 2011. This represents a third straight year of increases in large truck fatalities. Large truck related injuries also increased by nearly 9%.
  • Motorcycles. Motorcycles make up about 3% of all registered motor vehicles in the country, but account for 15% of the total number of motor vehicle fatalities. In 2012, 4957 people died as result of motorcycle crashes, an increase of over 7% over 2011. Motorcycle injuries also increased by about 15% during the same time.

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  • Pedestrians. 2012 was also a more dangerous year for pedestrians. In 2011, 4457 pedestrians were killed in automobile accidents. By 2012, that number increased to 4743, in increase of 6.4%. At the same time, 7000 more pedestrians were injured in automobile accidents in 2012 than they were in 2011, an increase of 10%.

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  • Bicyclists. Automobile accidents also accounted for the death of 726 bicyclists in 2012, an increase of 6.5% over 2011. Bicyclist suffering injuries as result of car crashes also increased slightly, by about 2%.

About Willard P. Techmeier

Will's headshotWillard P. Techmeier is the lead attorney at the Cochran Firm Wisconsin, where he focuses his practice on personal injury and medical malpractice law. He has been recognized by Milwaukee Magazine as one of the area’s top personal injury lawyers and has been listed by the Super Lawyers peer-rating service since 2006. He is a certified civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and a certified civil pretrial practice advocate by the National Board of Civil Pretrial Advocacy. He is a 1970 graduate of the Marquette University Law School. In his spare time, Will and his wife, Paulette M. Friesch, who also practices in the firm, enjoy traveling.