The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) recently released its initial projections for traffic fatalities during the 2023 calendar year, estimating a decrease in traffic deaths during the first three months of the year. The decrease is the fourth straight quarterly decline in traffic fatalities. In addition, the NHTSA estimates that the number of vehicle miles traveled increased during the same time period.
Per the NHTSA, an estimated 9,330 people died in traffic crashes over the course of the first three months of the year, a decrease of roughly 3.3 percent compared to the first three months of the 2022 calendar year, during which time an estimated 9,645 traffic deaths occurred. The decrease for 2023 is the fourth straight quarterly decline in traffic fatalities following seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year traffic death increases, which began in the third quarter of the 2020 calendar year. The NHTSA estimates that fatalities decreased in 32 U.S. states, while fatalities increased in 18 states and Puerto Rico. Figures for the District of Columbia were unchanged.
“After spiking during the pandemic, traffic deaths have been on a slow but consistent decline for the past year,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This is an encouraging sign as we work to reverse the rise in roadway deaths, but there is much more work ahead to reinforce this downward trend and make it permanent.”
In addition to fewer road deaths, the NHTSA also recorded an uptick in vehicle miles traveled, with projections indicating a 2.6-percent increase, bringing the estimated fatality rate for the first three months of the 2023 calendar year down to 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, as compared to 1.32 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled during the same time period in 2022.
Last January, Secretary Buttigieg revealed the new National Roadway Safety Strategy, which seeks to decrease traffic fatalities and serious injuries with “safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds and better post-crash care.”