Despite an overall downward trend in the number of traffic deaths in 2011, the number of fatalities for bicyclists and the occupants of large trucks rose, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported.
In its analysis of traffic trends for 2011, the NHTSA reported that the number of bicyclist deaths rose 8.7 percent over the previous year, and the number of deaths for the occupants of large trucks rose 20 percent.
The total number of traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949, NHTSA officials reported. Total traffic deaths fell 1.9 percent to 32,367 - coinciding with a dip in the total number of miles driven.
A spokesman for the NHTSA said that the increase in bicyclist deaths was probably the result of more people riding bicycles to work or riding bicycles for exercise and pleasure.
"Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportation," Jonathan Adkins, the deputy director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told WRAL.com. "We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely."
Adkins said the increase in deaths for large-truck passengers may be due to more trucks being on the road as the economy picks up. However, he said the reasons were not certain.
Other data from the NHTSA report show that motorcyclist deaths are also rising - up 2.1 percent for the year and marking the 13th time in 14 years that the number has risen.
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