Traffic fatalities went down in the first half of 2023, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In the first half of the year, there were an estimated 19,515 traffic fatalities, down 3.3% compared to the same period last year. The second quarter of 2023 represents the fifth consecutive quarterly decline in fatalities.
That is despite an increase in vehicle miles traveled. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that vehicle miles traveled increased by 2.3% in the first half of 2023. Consequently, the traffic fatality rate for the first half of 2023 decreased to 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from the projected rate of 1.31 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the first half of 2022. NHTSA estimates a decrease in fatalities in 29 states.
“After spiking during the pandemic, traffic deaths are continuing to slowly come down—but we still have a long way to go,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “Safety has always been the core mission of this department, and thanks to President Biden, we are delivering unprecedented resources to communities across the country to make their streets safer.”
Geographically, eight of 10 regions in the United States experienced a drop in traffic fatalities.
Region 1 (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) experienced the largest drop at 15%. Meanwhile, Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington) experienced the largest increase at 9%. Massachusetts’ fatality rate of 0.53 is the lowest in the nation, while Mississippi and South Carolina’s rate of 1.73 is the highest.
“While we are encouraged to see traffic fatalities continue to decline from the height of the pandemic, there’s still significantly more work to be done,” NHTSA acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement. “NHTSA is addressing traffic safety in many ways, including new rulemakings for lifesaving vehicle technologies and increased Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for state highway safety offices. We will continue to work with our safety partners to meet the collective goal of zero fatalities.”
The actual fatality counts for 2022 and 2023 and the associated percentage changes will be revised later this year. These estimates will be further refined when the projections for the first nine months of 2023 are released in late December. LL