Crash Stats Claim That There Was a Drop in Traffic Fatalities in 2022
Traffic fatalities are ranked the third leading cause of death for U.S. citizens behind heart disease and cancer. These will usually result from instances involving speeding, driving under the influence, distracted driving, and simple carelessness. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there were reported 42,795 traffic deaths in 2022, which is a 0.3 decrease compared to the 42,939 deaths in 2021. This report is based on the preliminary data collected by the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), meaning that the numbers are not fully finalized for 2022.
How Was There A Decrease in Traffic Fatalities in 2022?
The data claims that the fourth quarter of 2022 was the third consecutive quarterly decline in traffic fatalities in the US. Prior to that, there was a consistent increase in auto-related deaths for seven yearly quarters.
The data for traffic fatalities is measured for 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT). For the year 2022, there was a reported 1.35 fatalities for 100 million VMT. This is a decrease compared to 2021 when the annual VMT was 1.37. The report also claims that 27 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico displayed a reduction in annual traffic fatalities ranging from 1% to 3%. However, the other 23 states showed increased traffic fatalities ranging between 1% and 8%.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there were significant increases in traffic fatalities and the fatality rate per 100 million VMT. This trend continued to increase leading into 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. However, the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2022 showed a decrease in auto-related deaths. While this does appear to be a good sign, it should be noted that prior to 2020, the fatality rate per 100 million VMT in the U.S. was 1.11. This is a 20% difference from before the pandemic.
The NHTSA continues to collect and finalize data on traffic fatalities from police crash reports and other sources for the years 2021 and 2022. The final report for 2022 is expected to be released later this year and will likely show some revisions to the current one, resulting in some differences in fatality totals and percentages.