Americans reached a grim 20-year-high mark in traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s early estimates released on Thursday.
The agency reported 9,560, a 7% increase from the 8,935 traffic deaths America suffered in the first quarter of 2021 and the highest first-quarter total for these fatalities since 2002.
The increase in motorist mortality is not evenly distributed. Nineteen states and Puerto Rico saw their numbers decline in the first quarter of 2022, while the NHTSA data noted that “29 States and the District of Columbia are projected to have experienced increases in fatalities.”
Alaska and New Hampshire had no estimated change from the rate in the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, according to the NHTSA statistical summary.
“The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction. Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety,” NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said in a statement.
Traffic fatalities have increased each year during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re talking about three years in a row of traffic deaths, not just being up but being up significantly,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the nonprofit Governor’s Highway Safety Association, told ABC News.
Mr. Adkins suggests that speeding is to blame for the jump in deaths.
“States are telling me all across the country that speeds are up, drivers are just continuing to speed,” Mr. Adkins told ABC News.