A new federal study estimates that fatalities from car accidents increased at some of the highest non-lockdown levels in decades earlier this year, with Missouri seeing a higher increase than the national average. The data paints an alarming picture of roadway safety.
Study Estimates a 7 Percent Increase in Accident Fatalities
This month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its estimate of motor vehicle fatalities for the first quarter of 2022. That study estimated that there had been 9,560 roadway fatalities from January through March of this year. This was a 7.0 percent increase from the 8,935 fatalities during the same period of 2021 and, if the estimate holds up, would be the highest number of first quarter fatalities since 2002.
The increase was not contained to the total number of fatalities, either. There was also a slight increase in the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), from last year’s first quarter of 1.25, up to 1.27 this year. The increase in the rate of fatalities per VMT suggests that the 7 percent increase in the total number of roadway deaths was not solely because more people were driving more miles.
Missouri Worse Than National Average
The 7 percent increase was not the same across all areas of the country. For statistical purposes, the NHTSA divides America into 10 regions. Some, like the region that consists of Arizona and California, saw an 11 percent drop in total fatalities during this period. Mid-Atlantic states like Delaware, North Carolina, and Virginia saw increases of higher than 50 percent.
In Missouri, the study estimated that there had been 203 accident fatalities, up from 184 during the first quarter of 2021, and representing a 10.3 percent increase – slightly higher than the national average increase of 7 percent.
Trends in the Data are Complicated By Coronavirus Lockdowns
Of course, downward trends in the fatality numbers and percentages have been wrecked by the coronavirus. Steady but slow decreases had been dropping total yearly fatalities to around 36,500 and deaths per 100 million VMT to 1.11.
During the coronavirus those declines disappeared. Starting in the middle of 2020, when lockdowns were becoming normal, quarterly fatalities started increasing by double-digit percentage points and fatalities per VMT shot back up above 1.30.
Given these large increases, the recent numbers present a mixed bag of bad news and signs that the increases were becoming less severe. For example, the 7 percent increase is high, but below last year’s first quarter increase of 13.2 percent, while the 1.27 fatalities per 100 million VMT would be tied for the highest rate in the last decade, not counting the pandemic years, it is well below the recent average.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Victims in St. Joseph
The personal injury and car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to legally represent accident victims in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.