COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio saw a big jump in traffic fatalities last year, according to newly released federal statistics, but officials say the numbers are coming back down in 2013.
Ohio had one of the largest year-to-year jumps in fatalities in the nation in 2012, according to the numbers released Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ohio was among 37 states where the number of traffic fatalities rose last year, and only Texas saw a larger increase from 2011 to 2012.
Officials in Ohio attribute the increase partly on unseasonably warm weather that got more motorcycles on the road earlier in the year, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1e7rnP0 ) reported Friday.
In all, 1,123 people died in Ohio wrecks last year — an increase of 106 from 2011.
But numbers are back down this year. The patrol expects to break the 2011 record-low with fewer than 1,000 traffic deaths in 2013. As of Thursday, there have been 836 fatal crashes statewide.
"We are making an impact," Ralston said. "We are making a difference. Things are getting better and safer in Ohio."
Nationwide, 33,561 people were killed in car crashes in 2012, an increase of 1,082. Ohio's crashes accounted for about 10 percent of the nationwide increase.
About 72 percent of the increase nationwide in 2012 occurred during the first quarter of the year. Ralston said Ohio actually experienced a drop in traffic deaths during the second half of 2012. Motorcycle deaths increased in the U.S. for the third consecutive year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also announced it would develop plans before the end of the year to encourage automakers to incorporate aggressive safety features in more vehicles.
Those include seatbelt interlocks that prevent vehicles from being driven before a seat belt is fastened, alcohol-detection systems and collision avoidance.