NHTSA traffic crash data shows 2020 had highest fatality rate since 2007

March 4, 2022
Report shows that 38,824 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide in the U.S. in 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week released its traffic crash data report from 2020, which shows the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007.

The report shows that 38,824 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide in the U.S. in 2020. While the number of crashes and traffic injuries declined overall, fatal crashes increased by 6.8%. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased to 1.34, a 21% increase from 2019 and the highest since 2007.

Early estimates for 2020 traffic fatalities released last summer showed an estimated 38,680 deaths from motor vehicle crashes.

“The tragic loss of life of people represented by these numbers confirms that we have a deadly crisis on our nation's roads," Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator, said in a statement. "While overall traffic crashes and people injured were down in 2020, fatal crashes and fatalities increased. We cannot allow this to become the status quo.”

NHTSA said in a news release that in 45% of fatal crashes, the drivers of passenger vehicles were engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors: speeding, alcohol impairment, or not wearing a seat belt.

The 2020 crash data report also examines fatality data in several key categories, as compared to 2019, including: 

  • Injured people, including occupants and non-occupants, went down significantly
  • Fatalities in speeding-related crashes went up 17%
  • Fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes went up 14%
  • Unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities went up 14%
  • Motorcyclist fatalities up 11% (highest number since first data collection in 1975)
  • Bicyclist fatalities up 9.2% (highest number since 1987)
  • Pedestrian fatalities up 3.9% (highest number since 1989)

In January, the U.S. DOT released a National Roadway Safety Strategy, a roadmap to address traffic fatalities and serious injuries nationwide.


SOURCE: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration