Traffic deaths in the U.S. declined by 0.2% in the first nine months of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021, according to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projections shared Monday. However, fatalities increased by 2% among pedestrians and 8% among cyclists during the first six months of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021.
NHTSA estimated that 31,785 people died in traffic crashes from January to September, a year-over-year decrease of 65 deaths, even though motorists drove 1.6% more miles than in 2021.
“A reduction in roadway fatalities is welcome, but the 0.2% decline announced by NHTSA follows an unprecedented two-year surge in roadway deaths and dangerous driving,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, in an emailed statement. “Coupled with that is a continued rise in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths, underscoring the urgent need to ensure that road users not in vehicles enjoy the same protections as drivers and their passengers.”
Countering the overall decline in traffic fatalities, deaths rose 5% in the region comprising New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont, and 4% in the region including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
The safety agency also released data showing that fatalities declined 10% on urban collector and local roads but increased 12% on rural interstate roads and 9% on rural collector and local roads. Fatalities also rose 10% in crashes involving at least one large truck.
“It is clear that traffic fatalities persist at egregiously high levels, large truck and vulnerable road user crash fatalities continue to climb, and action must be taken now to ensure all road users can safely travel on U.S. roadways,” said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, in an emailed statement.
Correction: We have updated the first paragraph to provide the measurement period for the comparison of pedestrian and cyclist deaths. The data compares the first six months of 2021 and 2022.