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The Number of Traffic Accident Deaths is Heading in the Wrong Direction

January 04, 2023

According to an article posted on, traffic fatalities in the United States hit a 20-year high in early 2022. The surge in motor vehicle accident fatalities started during the pandemic and is not showing any signs of slowing down, government traffic safety officials said.

The news report states that over 9,500 people were tragically killed in motor vehicle accidents in the first three months of 2022. Federal transportation administrators stated that the number of deaths at the beginning of 2022 was the deadliest first three months in more than twenty years.

In seven U.S. states and Washington D.C., transportation officials estimated traffic-related deaths grew by 50 percent or more. Throughout the United States, accident fatalities grew by 7 percent over 2021.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's preliminary estimates for 2022 have not been released at this time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's report will also break down how these accidents happened. Transportation officials believe the surge in traffic deaths began in 2020 during the peak of the COVID pandemic.

Steven Cliff, the head of NHTSA, stated that the number of traffic accident deaths is "moving in the wrong direction." He also stated that it's time for all "U.S. states to double down on traffic safety." Mr. Cliff said risky driving behaviors skyrocketed along with traffic fatalities starting in March 2022. 

Traffic safety experts are struggling to come up with an answer as to why the number of traffic deaths continues to rise so quickly. They believe that less traffic congestion during the pandemic changed driving patterns and allowed people to drive at dangerous speeds. NHTSA officials also stated that they now have evidence that there has been an "uptick in reckless behavior, drunk driving, and more people not wearing their seat belts. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported nearly 8,000 traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2020. In 2021, the number of traffic fatalities spiked to nearly 9,000, then increased to over 9,500 deaths in 2022. The news report states that the first quarter is always the least fatal on U.S. roadways.

Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that the federal government is working hard to prevent accident-related deaths. The agency pledges to embrace a "safe system" approach involving roadways design and individual drivers' behavior. The measure is backed by billions of dollars in new safety grants from President Biden's infrastructure law. $5 billion dollars will be used to protect pedestrians and bicyclists.

The infrastructure law includes grants for technology to address the biggest causes of traffic-related deaths, including an NHTSA mandate that requires breath alcohol monitoring devices to be installed in new cars. However, those systems are still in testing.

Some safety advocates believe the federal government is struggling to move beyond its traditional focus on driver behavior.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.