Although highway fatalities have been on the decline for years, the first quarter of 2012 saw a rise in accidents that many are blaming on the unusually warm winter weather.
Deaths caused by traffic incidents jumped to 13.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012, which is substantial compared to last year’s drop of 1.7 percent in traffic fatalities.
Generally, for the first three months of the year, much of the country is covered in snow and ice, which makes driving more treacherous, and therefore encourages people to drive less. But in 2012, the winter was very mild, and the average amount of miles traveled increased by 1.4 percent in the first quarter of the year. About 1,000 more traffic incidents were reported this year over last, NHTSA said.
Reminding the public that this fatality number is skewed by the weather this year, NHTSA said, “consequently, the fatality rate for the first quarter should not be used to make inferences for the fatality rate for the whole of 2012.”