While traffic fatalities dropped slightly nationwide during the first nine months of 2022, Hawaii saw the greatest increase in roadway deaths, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration early estimate released Monday.
Hawaii is projected to have experienced a 42.2% increase in that period compared with the same months in 2021. Delaware was next (23.9%) followed by Washington (21.4%), Nebraska (23%) and Alaska (20.4%).
However, the news was more positive when looking at nationwide statistics. NHTSA estimates that 31,785 people died in traffic crashes nationwide between January and September of 2022 — a .2% decrease compared with the same period in 2021.
The reduction in roadway deaths nationwide, however, was not consistent. Fatalities among cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians were all up.
The agency said overall fatalities declined slightly in the third quarter of last year, marking a second consecutive quarterly decline following seven quarters of year-over-year increases that began during the pandemic.
NHTSA found that the declines in fatalities showed a mix of increases and decreases across various categories. For the first six months of 2022, there were 10% fewer deaths in children younger than 16 and 8% fewer deaths in people ages 16 to 24.
Fatalities decreased 9% in rollover crashes, 7% in crashes involving passengers ejected from a vehicle, 7% in unbelted people in passenger vehicles and 2% in speeding-related crashes.
Fatalities increased 12% on rural interstates, 10% in crashes involving at least one large truck, 8% among cyclists, 5% among motorcyclists and 2% among pedestrians.
South Dakota saw the largest decrease in fatalities (28.1%), followed by Rhode Island (23.5%), District of Columbia (20.7%), Idaho (17.6%), and Oklahoma (16.1%). In California, fatalities fell 2.2%.
“Fatalities have not increased for two quarters now, but we have far more work to do to save lives and address the crisis on our nation’s roadways,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement. “That means investing in safety, implementing strategies that work and embracing the safe system approach outlined in the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy.”
Issued a year ago, the National Roadway Safety Strategy sets a goal of zero fatalities and takes an iterative approach to improving safety programs involving infrastructure, human behavior, oversight of the vehicle and transportation industries and emergency response.
The slight decline in roadway deaths in 2022 comes as Americans drove more. Vehicle miles traveled for the first nine months of last year increased 1.6%, according to the Federal Highway Administration.