A Worrying Trend

By Debbie Hersman

According to an estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the first three months of 2012, highway deaths jumped 13.5 percent from the same time period last year. This represents the second-largest increase in fatalities in the first quarter since 1975, when NHTSA began to record traffic fatalities.

This is especially alarming given the steady decrease in first quarter fatalities since 2006. Some may attribute this to a statistical “hiccup” in an overall downward trend. But let us not forget that this figure represents 910 more highways deaths than in the same period in 2011. These were 910 lives that should not have been lost.

The estimates for 2011 show deaths at a 60 year low, but still, more than 30,000 fatalities over the course of last year. In reality, all highway crashes are preventable. It is very often about choices – texting, talking on the phone, speeding, running red lights, and the list goes on. Safety on the road cannot be far from a driver’s mind at any time, and those in the traffic safety community have the great responsibility of ensuring that fatalities are prevented.

Fatalities might be an accepted part of current motor vehicle culture, but this must change. Don’t drive distracted, don’t drive if you are tired or haven’t had enough sleep, don’t drive impaired with alcohol or drugs, make sure you and your passengers are buckled up. If we all work to increase safety and awareness while on the roads, we can prevent fatalities and injuries. Let’s make sure that the first quarter is not the beginning of a trend in the wrong direction – that is no way to get to zero.

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