WASHINGTON — Fatal accidents that killed motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians helped drive up the number of U.S. traffic fatalities in 2012 for the first time since 2005, according to federal data released Thursday.
Higher death rates among those who travel the roadways on two wheels or on foot accounted for more than half of the increase, and 28 percent of the total number of 33,561 people killed last year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The overall death toll rose by 1,802 deaths over 2011, and that total was increased by 657 additional deaths of motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians. The 9,426 deaths of road users in those three categories were only slightly eclipsed by the number of deaths attributed to drunken driving: 10,322.
"Americans are still driving drunk, are still driving distracted and aren't always wearing their seat belts," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said.