Traffic Deaths Are Down, but It's Still a 'National Crisis'

Preliminary numbers show a 0.3% decrease
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2023 4:50 PM CDT
US Traffic Deaths Drop Ever So Slightly in 2022
Traffic moves along the Interstate 76 highway in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The number of people killed on US roadways decreased slightly last year, but government officials said the 42,795 people who died is still a national crisis, reports the AP. Estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that the number of fatalities dropped 0.3% from the 42,939 killed in 2021. NHTSA said in a statement that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also fell slightly in 2022 to 1.35, down from 1.37 in 2021. People are driving more as the coronavirus pandemic waned, with miles traveled increasing almost 1% over 2021. And while Traffic deaths declined in the fourth quarter, marking the third straight quarterly drop, they're still close to 2021 numbers—the highest in 16 years.

"We continue to face a national crisis of traffic deaths on our roadways, and everyone has a role to play in reversing the rise that we experienced in recent years," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement Thursday. The department has adopted a national safe systems strategy to reduce the deaths. It includes over $800 million in grants to help communities with projects in high-crash areas, NHTSA said in a statement. Estimates from the agency generally are close to the final numbers, which for 2022 will be released next spring.

In releasing statistics for 2021 earlier this month, NHTSA said speeding and impaired or distracted driving are on the rise. Data from 2021 showed a 12% increase in fatal crashes involving at least one distracted driver, with 3,522 people killed. That prompted the agency to kick off a $5 million advertising campaign in an effort to keep drivers focused on the road. Agency officials said such cases likely are under-reported by police. The number of pedestrians killed rose 13%, and cyclist fatalities were up 2%. The number of unbelted passengers killed rose 8.1%, while fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving were up 14%. Speeding-related deaths increased 7.9%, while crash deaths involving large trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds were up 17%, the agency said.
(More highway safety stories.)

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