WASHINGTON Traffic fatalities surged 5 percent last year, according to an analysis of preliminary state data, putting an end to a seven-year decline in which the number of annual traffic deaths reached their lowest level in more than six decades.
The National Safety Council said Tuesday it estimates there were 36,200 motor vehicle fatalities in 2012. That's up from 34,600 deaths the previous year. It's the first increase since 2004 to 2005.
The council estimates crash injuries requiring medical care also rose 5 percent last year to 3.9 million.
The council receives monthly fatality data from every state.
The council said more driving due to an improved economy and a mild winter may explain some of the increase, but the rate of deaths per 100,000 miles traveled also increased 4 percent.
CBS affiliate KLAS-TV reports that Las Vegas is already experiencing a spike in traffic deaths in 2013, with fatalities reaching 19 since January.
"I'll tell you what it is more than anything else," said Erin Breen, the head of the UNLV Safe Community Partnership in Las Vegas. "It's people not giving themselves enough time to get where they are going, and thinking the rules don't pertain to them. It's just a total lack of respect for themselves, for the people around them, and for the law."