The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has collected nationwide traffic data for decades. This includes motor vehicle traffic crashes and any fatalities resulting from such crashes as well. States and the federal government often use this information to determine how they can make roads safer, which traffic laws need amendment, and how certain driving behaviors affect fatality rates.
In recent data reports, the NHTSA has observed some marked changes in recent traffic fatality rates. According to the NHTSA, the first quarter of 2022 had the highest number of nationwide first-quarter traffic fatalities since 2002. After how many changes have been made to traffic and general vehicle safety in the last 20 years, it begs the question of what has changed to cause such a regression when traffic safety has gone to great lengths to progress.
To further confound things, while nationwide traffic fatality data reflects an alarming increase in deaths compared to 20 years ago, a more granular look at data specific to each state reveals that some states have gone against this trend. Pennsylvania is one such state that appears to have moved in the desired direction regarding its lowered traffic fatalities, demonstrating the effectiveness of its traffic laws and motor vehicle safety.
By analyzing this data, it’s possible to identify the shortcomings of national traffic safety, as well as what outlying conditions may have contributed to this increase in traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2022. And by observing state-specific data, it may allow legislatures from local municipalities to the federal government to identify what states like Pennsylvania are doing right and how to implement their traffic safety strategies on their own.
Philadelphia, PA, car accident lawyer Cousin Benny is committed to the safety of drivers in his home state and beyond, and an extensive analysis of this report on his part could make a sincere difference in the lives of many.
Key Findings of the NHTSA Report
In the official report from the NHTSA, the organization estimates that 9,560 people died from motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2022. This is an increase of about 7% compared to the same quarter of 2021, where motor vehicle traffic deaths were estimated at around 8,935.
This data also reflects an increase in the overall fatality rate in the United States, as it reached 1.27 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled in the first quarter of 2022, up from the 1.25 fatalities per 100 million miles in the first quarter of 2021.
At a time when the current federal administration is making great strides to try and improve the nation’s infrastructure and transportation safety, this data is a cause for concern. While it would be futile to end traffic fatalities altogether, efforts to enhance vehicle and highway safety and adaptive traffic laws should contribute to lower fatality rates.
Although there may not be a clear answer to this rise in fatalities, it’s certainly more than just that people are driving more recklessly. Looking at the data for a state like Pennsylvania, where fatalities are down, it’s at least clear that some parts of the country are doing something right. Perhaps by analyzing the state’s data, others can build an understanding of Pennsylvania’s traffic safety philosophy and what other circumstances could be contributing to its relative safety.
Traffic Fatalities in Pennsylvania are Down 6.4% from 2021
Although Pennsylvania has its share of dangerous roads, Pennsylvania’s first quarter fatality numbers are in stark contrast to the rest of the nation. Whereas the United States as a whole has experienced a rise of 7% in traffic fatalities since the first quarter of 2021, Pennsylvania has undergone a remarkable decrease of about 6.4% in the same time.
This disparity becomes especially significant when compared to other states, as most states with decreases in traffic fatalities don’t have a comparable population to Pennsylvania. Among the states that experienced a decline in traffic fatalities, California is the only one with similar metropolitan areas to Pennsylvania. Other states like Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, while going against the national trend, don’t contain nearly as many citizens or densely populated areas where this downturn in traffic fatalities would be as significant.
With major metropolitan areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would seem more likely to have an increase in traffic fatalities in line with those of Massachusetts or Texas. While happenstance is entirely possible, the busy city streets of Philadelphia combined with the expansive highways that intersect the rest of the state would have to suggest something else is at play.
While it may come down to more robust traffic laws and stronger infrastructure, developing a complete answer to this data disparity will likely be impossible until information on the first quarter of 2023 is gathered. If Pennsylvania continues to see a decline in traffic fatalities during this time while the national average continues to rise, then researchers will likely need to delve deeper into Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and traffic systems to see what it’s doing right, and what other states may be doing wrong.