Traffic fatalities on the nation’s roads have spiked dramatically this year, ending six years of steady decline that had seemed to herald success after decades of effort to make vehicles and roadways less risky.
The 7.1 percent increase in the first nine months of the year was the biggest jump during the January-through-September span since 1975, the year that federal officials began compiling traffic-death data.
In releasing the preliminary statistics, federal officials pointed out that the year-to-year comparison was made against 2011, when highway deaths reached their lowest point in more than 60 years. Even with the increase this year, they said the total was 26 percent below the number killed during the first nine months of 2005.
The projections were made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration based on data collected from state officials. They showed that fatalities increased this year by 1,696, to 25,580. The increase far outpaced the 0.6 percent increase in total miles driven this year.