NHTSA Estimates: Traffic Deaths Third Quarter of 2022

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2022, estimating that 31,785 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of the year. This is a 0.2% decrease as compared to the 31,850 estimated fatalities during the same time in 2021.

Americans continue to drive more than during the height of the pandemic, with preliminary Federal Highway Administration data showing a 1.6% increase in vehicle miles traveled, or about 39 billion miles. As a result, the estimated fatality rate for the first nine months of 2022 decreased to 1.30 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from the projected rate of 1.32 fatalities during the same time in 2021. 

NHTSA projects that fatalities declined slightly in the third quarter of 2022, making this the second straight quarterly decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases in fatalities. Those increases began in the third quarter of 2020.

While fatalities overall declined, fatalities amongst cyclists and pedestrians continued to rise. 

“Fatalities have not increased for two quarters now, but we have far more work to do to save lives and address the crisis on our nation’s roadways. That means investing in safety, implementing strategies that work, and embracing the safe system approach outlined in the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy. We urge everyone to do their part by driving safely and watching out for others on the road, especially vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson.

NHTSA estimates that for the first three quarters of 2022, fatalities increased in 25 states, stayed unchanged in one state, and decreased in 24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

NHTSA also released a new report, “Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by Sub-Categories Through June 2022.” The report shows a mixture of increases and decreases across the sub-categories.

As compared to the first half of 2021, fatalities decreased:

  • 10% in children younger than 16
  • 10% on urban collector and local roads
  • 9% in vehicle rollover crashes
  • 8% in people ages 16 to 24
  • 7% in crashes involving passengers ejected from a vehicle
  • 7% in unbelted people in passenger vehicles
  • 2% in speeding-related crashes

As compared to the first half of 2021, fatalities increased:

  • 12% on rural interstates
  • 10% in crashes involving at least one large truck
  • 8% among cyclists
  • 5% among motorcyclists
  • 2% among pedestrians

The Department’s actions on roadway safety are guided by the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which outlines the Department’s comprehensive approach to significantly reducing serious injuries and deaths on highways, roads and streets. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides unprecedented funding for safety to achieve the Department’s ambitious, long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities.



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