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Traffic Accidents Decrease but Deaths Increase


COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - The numbers are in on last year’s traffic crashes in Branch County and across the state. While the number of actual accidents in Michigan went down by 4%, the number of fatalities went up by 5%.

In Branch County, the fatals doubled, going from 3 in 2011 when 4 people were killed in those crashes to 6 last year with a total of eight lives lost. Statewide, officials say the rise in fatals in 2012 may have been driven by an 18% increase in motorcycle deaths in the first year Michigan permitted some cyclists to ride without helmets.

Anne Readett with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning says the year began with an increase in fatalities that they believe may have been due to the milder winter. Motorcycle accidents in the county doubled from 11 the year before last to 22 in 2012. There were fewer teen deaths on the roads in Michigan, but alcohol and drug related deaths were higher than the year before.

In Branch County, though, alcohol related traffic accidents went down from 50 in 2011 when one person died to 30 crashes last year with two fatal alcohol related accidents last year.