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Are Pennsylvania Highways Getting More Dangerous?

The statistics on vehicle accidents in the United States have been promising since 2005. In the period from 2005 through 2011—the last year for which complete data is available—traffic accident fatalities dropped by more than a quarter. It’s a trend that everyone should be happy to see continue.

Unfortunately, the early reports from 2012 suggest that the trend has reversed course.

Preliminary figures from a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study (NHTSA) show that there was a 5.3 percent increase in road deaths in 2012. While the improving U.S. economy led to a rise in driving—an increase that was entirely expected—it was a surprise to see that the fatality rate jumped much higher. The NHTSA data shows there was a 0.3 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2012 over 2011. This modest percentage rise is dwarfed by the percentage jump in fatalities.

NHTSA compiled its early figures from police reports and other sources. Because the information is still being collected, experts say that the final numbers for 2012—which will be released toward the end of 2013—may vary a little from these early estimates, but they are quick to add that usually the preliminary data is very close to the final totals.

In a press release, the Governors Highway Safety Association expressed concern over the new direction in traffic fatality statistics. “The news, while disheartening, is not surprising. With the improving economy and historically low levels of motor vehicle deaths in recent years, we expected deaths to increase,” wrote Barbara Harsha, Executive Director of the GHSA.

What this means for Pennsylvania

The NHTSA data does not provide a breakdown of Pennsylvania fatal traffic accidents for 2012. We know from the historical record that the commonwealth generally tracks just below the national average for fatal accidents based on miles driven, so we can expect that there will be a significant bump in Pennsylvania traffic fatalities when the final 2012 data is published.

That’s certainly nothing to cheer about. In the past, we have made great strides in controlling the factors that contribute to fatal car accidents, such as texting, failure to use seat belts, and driving after drinking. The new evidence shows that there is much work still to be done.

If you have lost a family member in a fatal Pennsylvania traffic crash, you may be due compensation for the economic and emotional losses that this death causes. Being compensated for a wrongful death on the highway is not an attempt to “buy you off.” Everyone understands that no dollar figure can heal your grief, but financial compensation can see to it that you do not suffer needless money worries when a spouse, parent, sibling, or child is killed. Contact the Harrisburg injury lawyers at Schmidt Kramer by calling 888-476-0807 to learn what legal options are available to you. There is no charge for your initial consultation, and we will not charge legal fees unless we can secure a recovery for your case.