BY BOB HOLT
There was good news and bad news on the highways in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The group’s analysis showed that overall deaths on the highways reached their lowest level in over 60 years.
But the bad news is deaths of bicyclists and people in large trucks took a big jump. The number of traffic fatalities reached 32,367 in 2011, a decline of 1.9 percent. But deaths of cyclists rose by 8.7 percent and deaths of those riding in large trucks went up by 20 percent.
Deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association Jonathan Adkins believed the increase in bicycle deaths likely came from more people riding bicycles for work and pleasure purposes.
"Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportations," he said, according to an Associated Press story on NorthJersey.com.
"We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely," he said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that according to the NHTSA analysis, 70% of the bicycle-related deaths involved head injuries, but just about one-third of cyclists wear helmets. Newser.com reported that bike deaths increased from 623 in 2010 to 677 last year.
According to redOrbit, other results showed pedestrian deaths rising three percent across the nation to 4,432, and deaths among motorcycle riders went up to 4,612. Deaths in accidents related to drunk driving dropped by 2.5 percent in 2011.
And accidents related to distractions jumped up to 3,331 last year.
In the report, New Jersey tied with California for the largest increase in highway fatalities with 71.