With Labor Day weekend just a week away, the NHTSA's annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Labor Day campaign is already underway. The campaign's kickoff last week last came as NHTSA also shared its early traffic stats for the first quarter of the year. And they aren't good. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a record increase in fatalities on U.S. roads this year, according to early traffic estimates for the first quarter of 2022. The numbers indicate the highest number of first-quarter deaths on the nation's roadways in twenty years, since 2002.
Safety regulators estimate that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of this year. Crash deaths are up 7% compared to the 8,935 fatalities projected for the same quarter in 2021.
According to NHTSA’s early estimates, the fatality rate for the first quarter of 2022 increased to 1.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from the projected rate of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in the first quarter of 2021.
The increase isn't happening everywhere, however. The NHTSA says 19 states and Puerto Rico actually saw traffic deaths decline in the same period. Federal safety regulators say they are continuing to monitor state-by-state numbers to identify trends and pass that info to states, researchers and safety advocates, to figure out what's causing the decline.
“The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction. Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there are more resources than ever for research, interventions and effective messaging and programs that can reverse the deadly trend and save lives,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator.
Last month, we told you about the NHTSA’sSpeeding Wrecks Lives campaign. It aims to change general attitudes toward speeding and remind drivers of the deadly consequences. The NHTSA says it's taking other action as well. In addition to education campaigns, NHTSA regional offices are working closely with States to assist them in directing NHTSA formula grant funds to address risky driving behaviors such as speeding and driving while impaired, protect vulnerable road users, and reach over-represented and underserved populations using a broad array of programs and countermeasures.