Some 9,560 people lost their lives in motor vehicle collisions in the first quarter of 2022 — up 7% from the 8,935 fatalities for the same quarter in 2021, according to the latest estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The new estimate marks the highest number of U.S. roadway deaths between January and March in 20 years.
According to the agency’s projections, the fatality rate for the first quarter of 2022 increased to 1.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from the projected rate of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in the first quarter of 2021.
While fatalities increased nationwide, 19 states and the Puerto Rico experienced a decline in traffic deaths during the first quarter of 2022. NHTSA will continue to monitor state-by-state numbers to help researchers track trends and identify any initiatives that states are implementing that may be contributing to the decline in lost lives.
But from a national perspective, our roadways are more dangerous than ever. First quarter roadway fatalities have jumped 42% since 2011, and the death rate measured by vehicle miles traveled has risen 30% during that time.
Safety organizations are reacting to the new NHTSA estimates with alarm. In a statement, the executive director of the Governor’s Highway Traffic Safety Association (GHSA) noted, “Tragically, the U.S. is on its way to a third straight year of surging roadway deaths.”
Safety experts at GHSA say the new fatality figures underscore the urgency of implementing the National Roadway Safety Strategy that was released by the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier this year in partnership with several leading safety organizations.