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NHTSA Report: U.S. Traffic Deaths Still High Despite Small Decrease

The aftermath of a fatal car accident with a closeup of a car's smashed windshielf.

Negligent drivers continue to cause fatal car accidents on our nation's roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's latest projections on traffic fatalities in 2022 show that 31,785 people died in car accidents in the first nine months of the year, a decrease of 0.2% compared to the previous year.

The numbers show that despite increased numbers working from home, Americans are driving more than ever, with preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration indicating a 1.6% increase in vehicle miles traveled, totaling roughly 39 billion miles. As a result, the estimated fatality rate for the first nine months of 2022 dropped to 1.30 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, slightly down from 1.32 fatalities in the same period in 2021.

The NHTSA projects that fatalities continued to decline in the third quarter of 2022, making this the second straight quarter of reduced fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases, starting in the third quarter of 2020. Although overall fatalities decreased, the number of deaths among cyclists and pedestrians remains high, emphasizing the need for increased safety measures and accountability for negligent drivers.

"Fatalities have not increased for two quarters now, but we have far more work to do to save lives and address the crisis on our nation's roadways," said NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson. "That means investing in safety, implementing strategies that work, and embracing the safe system approach outlined in the Department's National Roadway Safety Strategy. We urge everyone to do their part by driving safely and watching out for others on the road, especially vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists."

Analyzing the NHTSA report

The NHTSA noted that fatalities rose in 25 states, stayed unchanged in one state, and declined in 24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In its report, "Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by Sub-Categories Through June 2022," the NHTSA highlights a mixture of increases and decreases in various sub-categories of fatalities. Compared to the first half of 2021, fatalities decreased by:

  • 10% among children under 16 years old
  • 10% on urban collector and local roads
  • 9% in vehicle rollover crashes
  • 8% among those aged 16 to 24
  • 7% in crashes involving passengers ejected from a vehicle
  • 7% among unbelted passengers in vehicles
  • 2% in speeding-related crashes

However, the report also showed increases in fatalities, including:

  • 12% on rural interstates
  • 10% in crashes involving at least one large truck
  • 8% among cyclists
  • 5% among motorcyclists
  • 2% among pedestrians

The Department of Transportation's approach to road safety is guided by the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which outlines a comprehensive plan to significantly reduce fatalities and severe injuries on highways, roads, and streets. Federal funding for road safety is aimed at reaching the department's long-term goal of zero roadway fatalities.

DMV area fatal crash statistics

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, there were 547 traffic fatalities in 2022. That represents a slight decline from previous years, with 563 and 573 deaths in 2021 and 2020 respectively.

In Washington, D.C., the nation's capital saw a resurgence in traffic fatalities in 2022, with a total of 40 reported cases, marking the highest number of roadway deaths since 2007. These tragic incidents spanned across various modes of transportation, including cars, motorcycles, and even pedestrians and bicyclists.

Finally, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, traffic fatalities have been on an upward trend since 2018:

  • 2018: 819 fatalities
  • 2019: 827
  • 2020: 847
  • 2021: 968
  • 2022: 1,011

Common causes of fatal car accidents

Several forms of negligence can lead to fatal car accidents, including:

  • Drunk driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a significant cause of fatal car accidents. Impaired judgment, slow reaction time, and impaired motor skills can increase the risk of crashes.
  • Distracted driving: Using a cell phone, eating, or engaging in other activities while driving can divert a driver's attention from the road and increase the risk of accidents.
  • Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for road conditions can reduce a driver's ability to control the vehicle and respond to unexpected situations.
  • Reckless driving: Engaging in dangerous driving behaviors, such as tailgating, running red lights, or making illegal turns, increases the risk of accidents.
  • Improper lane changes: Improperly merging, changing lanes without signaling, or failing to check blind spots can cause accidents.
  • Fatigue: Driving while drowsy or fatigued can impair a driver's judgment, reaction time, and ability to stay awake.

These are just some common forms of negligence that can result in fatal car accidents. If you were injured or a loved one has been killed in a crash due to negligence, an attorney can find the facts that matter to your case, prove fault, and fight for the compensation you and your family are entitled to under the law.

Crash victims have legal rights. We fight for them.

When faced with the physical and financial toll of a car crash, the path to recovery can seem overwhelming. That's where the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC comes in. Our highly skilled legal team is equipped to guide clients with a compassionate and results-driven approach.

We understand that the impact of a car accident can extend far beyond physical injury, encompassing medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Our lawyers are dedicated to securing the compensation that crash victims deserve, negotiating with insurance companies, and pursuing all avenues of recovery.

Whether you're dealing with a severe injury or the death of a loved one due to negligence, trust us to be your unwavering advocate as we help you navigate the road to recovery. To learn more about how an experienced car accident lawyer can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

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