Traffic-related fatalities have dropped slightly in the first six months of 2023, according to federal data.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its early estimates of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2023, finding “that traffic fatalities declined for the fifth straight quarter.”
There were 19,515 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the period in question, representing a decrease of about 3.3%. The first half of 2022 saw 20,190 fatalities. Data shows that fatalities declined in the first and second quarter of 2023.
National Safety Council estimates released in August 2023 also showed a 3.3% decline for the same period.
The decline in fatalities coincides with an increase in vehicle miles traveled during the same period, the NHTSA said. That increase was about 35.1 billion miles, which is roughly 2.3% higher than the first half of 2022.
That results in a fatality rate of 1.24 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled for the first half of 2023, which is down from the projected rate of 1.31 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
NHTSA estimates a decrease in fatalities in 29 states, while 21 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, are projected to have experienced increases.
“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. “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 agency recently announced several safety initiatives aimed at reducing traffic deaths, including proposed rulemakings to require automatic emergency braking systems in passenger cars, light trucks and heavy vehicles.