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NHTSA Publishes its Final 2020 Traffic Crash Statistics


June 29, 2022

On March 2, 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a press release that provides its annual traffic crash data. The media release showed that 2020 had the highest number of traffic accident-related fatalities and was the highest fatality rate since 2007. The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data state that 38,824 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes nationwide. 

The number of police-reported accidents in 2020 fell by 22% when compared to 2019. The number of injured people also declined by 17% in 2020. Although the number of accidents and traffic injuries declined in 2020, the number of fatal accidents tragically increased by 6.8%. The report also states that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled grew to 1.34, which was a 21% increase from 2019.

In 45% of all fatal accidents, the passenger vehicles were guilty of one or more of the following risky driving behaviors: alcohol impairment, speeding, or not wearing their seat belts.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that the increasing number of traffic accident fatalities is a national crisis and that we cannot accept that these fatalities as unavoidable. 

Last January, the U.S. Department of Transportation published the federal government's National Roadway Safety Strategy, which is a roadmap that addresses the national crisis in traffic deaths and injuries. The plan embraces the safe system approach and builds numerous layers of protection with safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, better post-crash care, and safer speeds. The plan also includes an unprecedented safety budget as part of President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law.

The 2020 NHTSA accident data report also studies fatality data in critical classifications, as compared to 2019: 

  • Police-reported accidents decreased by 22% in 2020.
  • The number of injured occupants and nonoccupants fell substantially in most categories.
  • Fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers grew by 14%.
  • Fatal speeding-related accidents grew by 17%.
  • Motorcyclist deaths grew by 11% (the highest number since 1975).
  • Bicyclist deaths increased by 9.2% (The highest number since 1987).
  • Unrestrained passenger fatalities increased by 14%.
  • Passenger car occupant deaths increased by 9%.
  • Pedestrian fatalities grew by 3.9% (The highest number since 1989).
  • Deaths in urban areas grew by 8.5%.
  • Deaths in large-truck accidents dropped by 1.3%.
  • Fatal hit-and-run collisions grew by 26%.

The total vehicle miles driven fell by 11% in 2020, from over 3,300,000 million miles to about 2,900,000 million miles driven.

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Source: https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2020-traffic-crash-data-fatalities

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