Fleet Safety

The NHTSA Reports That Highway Fatalities May Be Going Down

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When tracking traffic data, particularly data relating to accidents and roadway fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is where we look for the latest information. The data for 2022 is finally coming in, and there are some surprising results, according to Business Fleet Magazine. While the general consensus has been that roads are becoming more dangerous, this study found that roadway fatalities went down for the first time in seven quarters. What exactly does this data look like? And what does it mean for this bigger picture?

A Breakdown of the Data

The reported data covers the first nine months of 2022. The NHTSA found that about 31,785 people died in traffic accidents during this period. This represents a 0.2% decrease, as in 2021, 31,850 people died in traffic accidents. That may not seem like a significant difference, but the fact that fatalities decreased at all is notable because fatalities had not decreased in so long. 

In 2020, traffic fatalities rose 7.2% despite fewer drivers being on the road and went up 10.5% above that in 2021. So, simply not having another drastic increase is a positive feat in and of itself, let alone seeing a decrease. 

Some of the specifics of the data also show positive changes. For example, there were 10% fewer roadway deaths in children under 16 and 8% fewer roadway deaths in people ages 16–24. Here are some more specifics to note: 

  • 9% fewer fatalities in vehicle rollover crashes
  • 2% fewer fatalities in speeding-related crashes
  • 7% fewer fatalities involving drivers ejected from a vehicle
  • 7% fewer fatalities involving people not wearing seatbelts

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association called this news: “a small step forward for safer roads.” 

However, there were some downsides to the data. Deaths among cyclists rose by 8%, pedestrians by 2%, and motorcyclists by 5%. It is important to remember to keep an eye out for everything on the road, including those who are not operating large vehicles. 

What is Causing the Decrease?

It may be surprising to learn that the pandemic might still play a part. The president and CEO of Arizona’s National Safety Council observed a connection in Arizona’s traffic: “We certainly saw a huge drop off when the pandemic started because nobody was driving. But then we saw a lot more fatalities because in the subsequent months following that because the roads were so wide open. We had people going extensive speeds that created really catastrophic accidents and created a lot more deaths than we’d normally see in the number of accidents.” 

This information aligns with the NHTSA’s findings regarding traffic fatalities in 2020 and 2021. He believes that now that we are returning to normal congestion levels, people must slow down. 

What Does This Mean for Drivers?

In short, this means don’t lower your guard. It is undoubtedly a good thing that road fatalities have decreased, but it doesn’t mean we can relax behind the wheel. It is always critical to remain focused while driving and practice good defensive driving habits. 

As a fleet manager, you can do your part by creating a safety culture in your business and promoting safe driving habits from every angle. Azuga’s technology can help you achieve your business’s safety goals with real-time data and comprehensive reports. Learn more about using Azuga to boost your fleet’s safety by trying a demo of our software today.