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New fatal crash data: So far, 2012 "disappointing" nationally

Motor vehicle safety experts are pleased with their efforts to improve safety features in vehicles to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities, and for good reason: Car accident fatality rates have been consistently in decline for much of the past decade.

New numbers from the first three months of 2012 are causing concern, though, in Ohio and across the country due to a significant increase in the number of car crash deaths nationally. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first quarter of 2012 yielded a 13.5 percent increase in motor vehicle deaths over the first quarter of 2011 -- an increase of more than 900 fatalities.

Prior to this year, first-quarter car accident rates had declined every year since 2006. The NHTSA said through a spokesman that it was too soon to speculate on why the increase might have occurred.

But the organization AAA, meanwhile, has noted that the first three months of 2012 were unseasonably warm and were likely marked by increased driving activity, which directly correlates to accident rates. The first quarter of every year tends to have the lowest accident rates, because drivers spend less time on the roadways and move at slower speeds due to hazardous winter weather.

However, the organization noted that other factors were likely involved. At any rate, if the data trends hold throughout the year, the increase in car accident deaths would be the second-largest such spike since the NHTSA began tracking accidents in 1975.

Source: CNN, "U.S. traffic fatalities soar 13.5 percent in first quarter of 2012," Jim Barnett, July 23, 2012

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