An improving economy and mild winter meant more cars on the road – and more fatal traffic accidents – in 2012. After a seven-year decline, the U.S. traffic fatality rate is on the rise, say auto accident attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell & Harrell. Statistics from both the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) show the number of fatal accidents rose in 2012 for the first time since 2005. An NSC report estimates vehicle fatalities at approximately 36,200 last year. That’s up from some 34,600 crashes involving a death in 2011. Non-fatal injuries requiring medical treatment also rose five percent to 3.9 million. Figures reported b y the NHTSA are similar. Preliminary findings place U.S. roadway fatalities at a 9-percent increase in the first half of 2012. The NSC’s and NHTSA’s findings are similar, despite differences in the information they collect. The NSC compiles figures from traffic accidents that happen on both public and private roads, whereas the NHTSA reports only those that take place on public roads. Plus, the NHTSA’s figures include only deaths that occur within 30 days of an accident, while the NSC tracks longer periods of time between accidents and deaths that ultimately are blamed on those crashes. Both agencies say the improving economy and a mild 2011/2012 winter across much of the country are likely contributing factors. Drivers had more money with which to travel, and mild weather making their travels easier. Thus, more vehicles on the road meant higher potential for accidents. An increase in the number or motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the roadways also lent to the upturn in traffic fatalities, as did a troubling rise in distracted driving. Researchers with the NHTSA also pointed to a boost in the number of semi trucks traversing America’s highways, and the resulting 20-percent jump in the occupant fatality rate. AAA officials say deteriorating roads also may be a factor. A traffic accident can be life-altering for both the victim and his or her family. If you or your dependents are injured in a car crash, attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell & Harrell can help assure that you get fair compensation for your losses. Get medical treatment immediately, then call 800-251-1111 and schedule a consultation with an experienced auto accident lawyer.