Safety at FHWA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2022, estimating that 42,795 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents a small decrease of about 0.3% as compared to 42,939 fatalities reported for 2021. The estimated fatality rate decreased to 1.35 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2022, down from 1.37 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2021. Americans are driving more than they did during the height of the pandemic, almost a 1% increase over 2021.
NHTSA also projects that fatalities declined in the fourth quarter of 2022. This is the third straight quarterly decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of increases that started in the third quarter of 2020.
While there has been a small decrease in fatalities, the loss of life on our roads is a national crisis that is both unacceptable and preventable. In addition, traffic crashes disproportionately impact people who are Black, American Indian, or live in rural communities. Zero is the only acceptable number of deaths on the Nation’s roads, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is committed to this ambitious and shared goal.
FHWA is collaboratively advancing the implementation of the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS)—the U.S. DOT’s comprehensive plan to significantly reduce serious injuries and fatalities on America’s roads. This strategy embraces a Safe System Approach, which builds multiple layers of protection around road users and is based on the reality that although people make mistakes, those mistakes do not have to be fatal.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides an unprecedented level of resources to improve roadway safety. Recognizing the critical role that the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) plays as part of the Federal response to save lives on our Nation’s roads, BIL substantially increased HSIP funding for States. This increase will translate into additional road safety projects in communities throughout America. However, HSIP alone will not achieve the goal of zero fatalities on our Nation’s roads. Safety should be prioritized in all funding programs, not just HSIP. Every transportation project is an opportunity to improve safety.
The three FHWA units that lead the agency in achieving its strategic goals for roadway safety are the Office of Safety, the Office of Safety and Operations Research and Development, and the Resource Center Safety and Design Technical Service Team. These three units work together to execute three key strategies informed by the Safe System Approach: promote excellence in safety programs, research and advance effective safety solutions, and fortify partnerships and outreach.
Getting to zero will take a sustained, urgent, and lasting commitment from partners inside and outside the U.S. DOT. FHWA is committed to leading a coordinated effort with stakeholders across the public sector, the private sector, and the advocacy and research communities to eliminate fatalities on our Nation’s roads.