June 21, 2023 | Washington, DC
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has 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.
“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 have projected increases in fatalities as compared to the same period in 2022. The District of Columbia remained unchanged.
Last January, Secretary Buttigieg unveiled the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy to address the national crisis in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The NRSS adopts the safe system approach and builds multiple layers of protection with safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds and better post-crash care.
The NRSS is complemented by unprecedented safety funding included in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the new Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program. In February, the Department announced over $800 million in grant awards for more than 500 communities to help carry out projects that can address high-crash areas. DOT also launched the next phase of the NRSS, its Call to Action campaign, and released a one-year progress report and accompanying data visualizations that highlight the extent and magnitude of the U.S. roadway safety problem.
The Department’s other roadway safety highlights include:
- Issuing a proposed rulemaking on advance pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).
- Releasing proposals for upgrades and a “road map” for the New Car Assessment Program – including developing a proposal to add a Pedestrian Protection Program to NCAP.
- Issuing a final rule on rear impact guards.
- Issuing a Standing General Order to collect more data about crashes that occur when automated driving systems and advanced driver assistance systems are engaged.
- Producing the Vulnerable Road User Safety Assessment to guide states on required 2023 assessments.
- Establishing the cross-agency work group to issue the Complete Streets Report to Congress: Moving to a Complete Streets Design Model.
- Advancing a revised MUTCD by analyzing and resolving the more than 25,000 public comments.
- Publishing an Advance Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning speed limiters with a motor carrier-based approach.