• December 6, 2023

Traffic Deaths Remain Historically High, New Estimates Reveal More Than 46,000 Lives Lost In 2022


For the second year in a row, preliminary estimates show that the United States “is in a dark place” – 46,270 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes last year. The approximate number of people who didn’t make it home to their families and loved ones in 2022 marks a 2% decrease from 2021, but represents a 9% increase over 2020. Compared to pre-pandemic 2019, the mileage death rate in 2022 increased nearly 22%, “showing just how dangerous it is to use American roads.”

Those are the highlights of initial estimates released earlier this month by the National Safety Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.

“From drivers and passengers to pedestrians and cyclists, road users of all ages are perishing in preventable crashes in the United States,” Lorraine Martin, president and chief executive of the National Safety Council, said in a statement. “Each crash that occurs on America’s roads is entirely preventable and unacceptable. We must change the way we think about designing and moving around in our communities, understanding that people will make mistakes and the cost of those mistakes should not be serious injury or death.”

Ten states experienced a rise in roadway deaths of 14% or more last year: Alaska (+27%), Hawaii (+24%), Wyoming (+20%), Maine (+20%), New Hampshire (+19%), Delaware (+19%), Connecticut (+17%), Nebraska (+16%), Washington (+14%) and Indiana (+14%).

Eight states and the District of Columbia saw a 10% or higher drop in traffic deaths last year,:Oklahoma (-25%), Idaho (-19%), Rhode Island (-17%), District of Columbia (-15%), West Virginia (-15%), Montana (-14%), Minnesota (-12%), South Dakota (-12%) and Arizona (-10%).

The safety group said despite the sobering traffic fatality statistics, there has been some notable progress in recent years. The National Roadway Safety Strategy, a road map for addressing the rise in the death toll introduced in 2022 by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, embraces the Vision Zero or Safe System approach to road safety and design that takes human error into account, first put into effect in Sweden in the 1990s.

The goal of the initiative is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries by creating multiple layers of protection, so if one fails, the others will create a safety net to lessen the impact of a crash. Improvements are designed to result in: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and better post-crash care.

The commitment to embrace a holistic approach to road safety in the U.S. is “the first time by the federal government,” the safety group said, but stressed that more needs to be done to address this “preventable national crisis.”

For additional information, including estimates for each state, click here. To learn more about road safety more generally, click here.

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