S. traffic deaths last year rose about 5 percent to about 36,200, according to a preliminary estimate released Monday by a nonprofit group that tracks auto safety.
The increase would be the first time in eight years that road deaths increased, and coincides with a jump in the number of miles Americans drove in 2012.
The National Safety Council also said crash injuries requiring medical attention rose by an estimated 5 percent since 2011 to a total of 3.9 million.
"NSC is greatly concerned with the upswing in traffic fatalities on our nation's roads," said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, which was founded in 2013 and chartered by Congress. "Although we have improved safety features in vehicles today, we also have new challenges, especially as it relates to teen and distracted driving, that need to be addressed on a national scale. We must work together now to reverse this latest trend to prevent needless tragedy."