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Everybody always blames the weather when something changes, from food price increases to the cost of housing. Now it’s being considered a contributing factor in the 13.5-percent increase in highway traffic deaths in the first quarter of this year.
That’s according to a statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), quoted in a story in The Detroit News.
But the real news isn’t the weather. It’s the dramatic increase in traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2012 – the biggest spike since 1979, and the second largest since the NHTSA began tracking traffic deaths on a quarterly basis in 1975.
The NHTSA statement cautioned that while the “winter of 2012 was unseasonably warmer than usual in most areas of the country," the first quarter results “should not be used to make inferences for the fatality rate for the whole of 2012.”
The estimated 7,638 people that died January through March of this year is up from the 6,720 that perished in road fatalities in the first quarter of 2011. This ends a steady decline in traffic deaths that has continued for the past seven years.
An Associated Press report carried by The Washington Post says safety experts cite a recovering economy as well as the warm winter as reasons why traffic deaths are up.