Motor Vehicle Deaths Again Reach an Estimated 46,000 in 2022

Preliminary estimates from NSC reveal traffic fatalities remain historically high; more should be done to address this preventable national crisis.

March 09, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For a second consecutive year, preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the United States is in a dark place. Once again – in a single year’s time – more than 46,000 people lost their lives in a preventable traffic crash. That’s more than 46,000 people who didn’t make it home to their families and loved ones in 2022.

Estimates also reveal a staggering statistic: Compared to pre-pandemic 2019, the mileage death rate in 2022 increased nearly 22%, showing just how dangerous it is to use American roads.

"From drivers and passengers to pedestrians and cyclists, road users of all ages are perishing in preventable crashes in the United States,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO. “Words matter, and as a country, we need to learn and understand that there are no vehicle accidents. Each crash that occurs on America’s roads is entirely preventable and unacceptable. We must change the way we think about designing and moving around in our communities, understanding that people will make mistakes and the cost of those mistakes should not be serious injury or death.”

Policymakers, employers and individuals must come together to put safety first on America's roads, and it starts with confronting public perception of this preventable national crisis. A significant step towards modifying how America talks about roadway incidents occurred with the update in language from “accidents” to “crashes” in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Just a few months later, the National Roadway Safety Strategy was released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It set a goal of zero fatalities for U.S. roads — the first time by the federal government — and adopts the Safe System approach, which takes a holistic look at road safety. Recently, DOT announced the Safe Streets and Roads For All grant program. These grants, aimed at aiding regional, local and tribal communities, plan for and make necessary safety improvements, and the Road to Zero Coalition's community traffic safety grants give the country a clear path toward enacting a safer mobility system to combat roadway fatalities and put zero traffic deaths within reach for every community.

Eight states and the District of Columbia took a step towards zero in 2022, seeing a 10% or higher drop in traffic deaths according to the Council’s preliminary estimates: Oklahoma (-25%), Idaho (-19%), Rhode Island (-17%), District of Columbia (-15%), West Virginia (-15%), Montana (- 14%), Minnesota (-12%), South Dakota (-12%) and Arizona (-10%).

Simultaneously, 10 states experienced a rise in deaths of 14% or more last year: Alaska (+27%), Hawaii (+24%), Wyoming (+20%), Maine (+20%), New Hampshire (+19%), Delaware (+19%), Connecticut (+17%), Nebraska (+16%), Washington (+14%) and Indiana (+14%). 

Motor vehicle fatality estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as data mature. NSC uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the CDC, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash, both traffic and non-traffic crashes occurring on private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the Council’s estimates.

NSC has calculated traffic fatality estimates since 1913. Supplemental estimate information, including estimates for each state, can be found on Injury Facts. To learn more about how to be safe on the roads, visit nsc.org/saferoads.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for more than 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

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