Fewer people died last year than in 2021 but not by much.
New statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show 2022 traffic fatalities have declined by 0.3% compared to the year before. While this sounds good, the numbers still tell a chilling story.
An estimated 42,795 people were killed in traffic accidents last year, marginally lower than the 42,939 individuals that lost their lives on American roads in 2021. It's worth noting that this is based on preliminary data, so the numbers may still change.
The first quarter of 2022 showed an increase in fatalities of 8.7% from the year before, with a total of 9,645 deaths between January and March. Despite an even higher death toll in the second, third, and fourth quarters, the numbers decreased compared to 2021's fatality figures.
The report also notes that fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased in 2022, with an average of 1.35 fatalities per 100 million VMT. This is slightly lower than the 1.37 road accident deaths per 100 million VMT in 2021. Additionally, the NHTSA reports that 27 states (along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) are projected to have decreased fatalities for 2022.
California, the most densely populated state in America, had an estimated 4,407 road fatalities in 2022, by far and away the highest rates in the country. Despite this, the fatalities per 100 million VMT sits at 1.35 - far lower than in states such as Texas (1.59), Arizona (1.76), Arkansas (1.80), and South Carolina (2.07).
The NHTSA reports that fatalities increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The increased trend of fatalities in 2020 [has] continued into 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The second, third, and fourth quarters of 2022 have experienced [a] decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases in fatalities since the third quarter of 2020."
Despite the advent of advanced safety systems, it still seems that road safety is a serious concern for every American motorist. One could argue that some of these features make for more distracted drivers, who think they can hand over driving duties to their vehicle's various systems. As the NHTSA and IIHS have shown, some of these features are not foolproof.
Whether you drive a 20-year-old hatchback or a brand-new Volvo XC90, the onus is on us to make the roads a safer place. This is achieved by staying focused, maintaining our vehicles, and not relying on tech to keep us safe.
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