With 12 crashes accounting for 362 deaths (worldwide) instead of 18 crashes with 716 fatalities, the skies were certainly safer during the first six months of this year. It is, however, important to note that one crash can bring half of that gap back to parity, since the number of deaths per flight mile is so slow but the number of deaths in an individual crash tend to be quite high.
According to the Naval Safety Center, a study from 1996 to 2000 concluded that there had been 12 commercial crashes resulting in 450 deaths. During that same time, there had been just over 50 million departures and flights had flown over 31 billion miles, placing commercial flight at an accident rate of one death per 4 million miles, and that's not taking into account the multiplier of the number of customers per flight. Individual stats (per customer flight mile) would be even more exaggerated. In comparison, fatalities on US highways during that same period were approximately 200,000.