16,290 people were killed in road accidents from January through June, says the NHTSA. For the first time since 2006, deaths are up. The NHTSA does not know why fatalities are up, but the usual suspects have already been rounded up.
Said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, to Reuters:
“Clearly there’s room for improvement in distracted driving – we would like all 50 states to pass texting bans. We’d practically eliminate alcohol impaired driving if we could get all offenders to use an ignition interlock.”
In the meantime, even the NHTSA warns that one should not jump to conclusions:
“It should be noted that the historic downward trend in traffic fatalities in the past several years —a pattern which has continued through the early estimates for 2011 released recently that show deaths at a 60-year low — means any comparison will be to an unprecedented low baseline figure. In fact, fatalities during the first half of the year have declined by about 27 percent from the recent high in 2006 to the low during the first half of 2011 (from 20,500 fatalities in 2006 to a projected 14,950 fatalities in 2011 during the first six months of the year).”
Apparently, Ms. Harsha did not read that part. Instead she says that “We may just be going back to the way it was before.”