The First Quarter Of 2022 Was The Deadliest In 20 Years On America’s Roads


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week released early estimates for traffic fatalities in the first three months of 2022, and the report makes for grim reading. So far, 2022 is the deadliest year for America’s roads since 2002.

A statistical projection of traffic fatalities shows that an estimated 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of this year. That’s up roughly seven percent over the same period of time in 2021, when 8,935 people died.

To a degree, that jump can be explained by Americans simply spending more of their time on the road in the early part of this year. Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that Americans traveled 40.2 billion miles (64.7 billion km) in the Q1 of 2022, which is more than last year.

Read Also: Why Do Canadian Traffic Deaths Fall While American Numbers Skyrocket?

The difference cannot wholly be explained by the extra time spent on the road, though, because although Americans traveled 5.6 percent more in Q1 2022 than they did in Q1 2021, fatalities rose by seven percent. Indeed, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased from 1.25 percent in 2021, to 1.27 percent in 2022, following on the sudden spike that started in 2020.

According to the NHTSA, fatality rates increased in the majority of states. Indeed, 29 states and the District of Columbia experienced more traffic deaths in the first quarter of the year. Some of the most staggering increases by percentage, though, happened in states with the fewest traffic deaths.

For instance, Delaware had the greatest jump in traffic fatalities this year, tragically increasing by more than 163 percent. Its total, though, rose from 19 fatalities in Q1 2021 to 50 in Q1 2022. By contrast, although Texas’s figure rose by just 5.6 percent, 1,071 people lost their lives on the state’s roads.

Fortunately, some states were spared this trend. California, another important population center like Texas, actually saw fatalities decrease by 7.3 percent to 944 early in the year. Rhode Island was the state with both the fewest fatalities (seven) and the one that lowered its number the most (50 percent).

A report from July showed that America is unusual among developed countries for the way its traffic fatalities have risen in the last two years. The size of its driver’s vehicles, its handling of drunk drivers, and the limited use of enforcement cameras all appear to be contributing to high numbers of fatalities as compared even to its northern neighbor, Canada.


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