By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Preliminary government data shows traffic deaths soared 13.5 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period last year. The number of deaths per miles driven also rose significantly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted the data online Friday. It says an estimated 7,630 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first three months of 2012, up from 6,720 deaths in the first quarter of last year.
The estimate may change later, but revisions usually don't vary much.
If the estimate holds true, it would be the second biggest year-to-year quarterly increase since the government began recording traffic fatalities in 1975.
The number of miles driven by motorists also increased by 1.4 percent, but so did the rate of accidents per miles driven.