This is the first time in the past seven years that more people died in the United States in automobile accidents then the year before. Before 2012 the last seven years in the United States witnessed a decrease in auto accident fatalities every year. This surge of road deaths comes during increased awareness of distracted driving and could and most likely will affect auto insurance rates if this increase in deaths is sustained.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that traffic fatalities in the United States increased by 5.3 percent in 2012. The NHTSA states that 30,080 people died on the roadways in the U.S. during 2012, reaching the highest death toll since 2008 when the U.S. had 8 million fewer people than in 2012. It is believed that this rise in traffic deaths is result of the upsurge of distracted driving and driving associated with the improving economy.
Many people in the insurance industry believe there is no way insurance rates will not be affected as traffic fatalities increase. The chief actuary at West Des Moines-based GuideOne Insurance, Gilbert Korthals, stated “if we begin to see a trend where traffic fatalities are increasing year after year, this is most likely trigger rates increasing”.
Even though the NHTSA’s report did not attempt to identify the cause of this increase in traffic deaths, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has publicly stressed the hazards of distracted driving and its effect on accident fatalities. A different National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report was released a month ago estimating that more than 600,000 drivers in the U.S. are instantaneously using their cellphones or operating some form of electronic device while driving at any given time during the day. This report also states that over 3,300 people died and 387,000 injured in 2011 as a result of distracted driving.
Seven of the nine geographic regions in the U.S. recorded increases in 2012 in the federal traffic fatality study, with the Northeast region recording a 15 percent uptick. Deaths fell by 1 percent in the New York-New-Jersey-Pennsylvania region and in the Pacific Northwest. Traffic fatalities rose 5 percent in the Midwest region that includes Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. It is important to contact an experienced accident attorney in your area if you or someone you love is involved in any type of auto accident.