The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its first projections for traffic fatalities in 2023, estimating that 9,330 people died in traffic crashes in the first three months of the year. This represents a decrease of about 3.3% as compared to 9,645 estimated fatalities during the same time in 2022. The first quarter of 2023 represents the fourth straight quarterly decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases in fatalities, beginning with the third quarter of 2020, according to a NHTSA press release.
“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.”
The projected decrease occurred alongside a 2.6% increase in vehicle miles traveled. The estimated fatality rate for the first three months of 2023 decreased to 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from the projected rate of 1.32 during the same time in 2022.
“This is very good news, but we know that far too many people are dying on our roadways in preventable crashes,” said NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson. “We are taking significant action to reduce traffic fatalities, including moving forward on new vehicle standards to make cars even safer, investing millions of dollars to improve infrastructure and roadway safety, and working with our state and local partners to help drivers make safe decisions on the road.”
NHTSA estimates that for the first three months of 2023, fatalities decreased in 32 states, while 18 states and Puerto Rico projected increases in fatalities as compared to the same period in 2022. The District of Columbia remained unchanged.