Statement on New Traffic Fatality & Economic Cost Data

  • January 9, 2023
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
CONTACT: Allison Kennedy / / 360-281-7033 (C)

Statement of Cathy Chase, President,

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates),

on Traffic Fatality Data for First Nine Months of 2022 and

Economic and Societal Costs of Traffic Crashes


A new report, The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2019, released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies the economic costs of traffic crashes in 2019 at $340 billion.  This breaks down to $1,035 for each person living in the U.S.  The addition of quality of life considerations raises the total societal harm from motor vehicle crashes that year to nearly $1.4 trillion.  The new data spotlight the significant financial burden of crashes and reinforce Advocates’ call to action to local, state and federal leaders to advance solutions proven to prevent and mitigate harm.  In addition to motor vehicle crashes being a cause of human suffering, it significantly dips into everyone’s wallets, often unknowingly.


 Estimates released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that over the first nine months of 2022 (January to September), 31,785 people were killed in traffic crashes – a decrease of 0.2 percent over the same period the previous year.  A separate report detailing the first six months of 2022 (January to June) showed that fatalities increased across several categories including in crashes involving large trucks (10 percent), cyclists (eight percent), motorcyclists (five percent) and pedestrians (two percent) when compared to the same time period in 2021.  It is clear that traffic fatalities persist at egregiously high levels, large truck and vulnerable road user crash fatalities continue to climb, and action must be taken now to ensure all road users can safely travel on U.S. roadways.

November 2022 marked the one year anniversary of the signing of the bipartisan infrastructure law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58).  Solutions required by this law are languishing while more than 800 people were killed each week of the first nine months of last year.  Specifically, the directive to require automatic emergency braking (AEB) on new passenger cars and large trucks has research proven potential to mitigate and prevent crashes.  Moreover, mandating impaired driving prevention technology on new vehicles – as also directed by the law – could save more than 9,000 lives each year once widespread, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).  Alarmingly, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has already missed dates to advance crucial IIJA mandates.  The Agency must view these directives as a “floor” rather than a “ceiling” for action to enhance the safety of those inside and outside of vehicles.

Last month, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) released the 2023 Roadmap to Safety report which outlines comprehensive, clear and commonsense steps that lawmakers at local, state and federal levels can and must take to make meaningful reductions in crash deaths.  Today’s estimates underscore the urgency to utilize these long-overdue, proven countermeasures.

 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer.  Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.