WASHINGTON, D.C. — There were 33,561 highway deaths in 2012, which was a 3% increase from 2011, according to data released last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The additional 1,082 fatalities came even as Americans drove about the same number of miles in 2012 as in 2011.

The majority of the 2012 increase in deaths, 72%, occurred in the first quarter of the year. Most of those involved were motorcyclists and pedestrians.

While the newly released statistics mark the first increase since 2005, NHTSA officials said that highway deaths over the past five years continue to remain at historic lows.

Fatalities in 2011 were at the lowest level since 1949. Even with the slight increase in 2012, the level of fatalities is the same as it was in 1950.

Early estimates on crash fatalities for the first half of 2013 indicate a decrease in deaths compared to the same timeframe in 2012.

"Highway deaths claim more than 30,000 lives each year, and while we've made substantial progress over the past 50 years, it's clear that we have much more work to do," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. "As we look to the future, we must focus our efforts to tackle persistent and emerging issues that threaten the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians across the nation."

For more information, see NHTSA’s overview of 2012 motor vehicle crashes.

Other news on NHTSA data:

New edition of School Transportation-Related Crashes released