Stay up to date with Executive Director Calls NHTSA 2022 Traffic Data Showing Slight Decline in Drunk Driving Fatalities “A Glimmer of Hope,” Urges Vigilance

WASHINGTON, D.C. — issued the below statement from Executive Director Leslie Kimball in response to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today, about the state of safety on American roadways.

“Today’s release of the 2022 traffic fatality data by NHTSA is a glimmer of hope that we are moving in the right direction,” said Kimball.” Particularly during April, Alcohol Responsibility Month, we are encouraged to see that both traffic fatalities overall and drunk driving deaths specifically declined in 2022—even if only by a narrow margin—after significant increases over the last couple of years. No one should have to share the road with a drunk driver, and even a slight reduction in these fatalities is a shift in the right direction that I hope will continue, consistently reducing lives lost year over year.”

The data show that from 2021 to 2022, 42,514 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways. This number is staggering, but in fact, it represents a decrease of 1.7%. Risky driving behaviors, such as alcohol-impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use seatbelts, are major behavioral factors contributing to traffic crashes and fatalities. In 2022, among passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes, 45 percent engaged in at least one of these factors and four percent of passenger vehicle drivers were exhibiting all three behavior factors during their fatal traffic crash.

Drunk driving fatalities remained relatively unchanged, decreasing 0.7% from 13,617 in 2021 to 13,524 in 2022, accounting for 32% of overall traffic fatalities. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia reported declines in the number of drunk driving fatalities from 2021 to 2022, however 24 states saw an increase in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities and two states had no change from 2021 to 2022.

“Despite the reduction in motor vehicle deaths compared to 2021, we must remember that every single one of these alcohol-impaired fatalities was 100% preventable,” continued Kimball. “These statistics reinforce's commitment to promote alcohol responsibility and safe driving practices. Included in this is the growing issue of drug-impaired driving which is increasingly concerning. We believe that education, public awareness campaigns, targeted advocacy and employing evidence-based countermeasures are key to reducing impaired driving fatalities. And we will continue to work with all stakeholders to promote responsible alcohol consumption and make our roads safer for everyone."

NHTSA also released its latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2023, estimating more miles driven and lower fatality rates compared to 2022. It is estimated that 40,990 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2023, a decrease of 3.6% as compared to the 42,514 fatalities reported to have occurred in 2022. This marks the seventh consecutive quarterly reduction in traffic fatalities.

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