The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2022.

The figures show an increase of about seven per cent, compared to the 8,935 fatalities projected for the same quarter in 2021. This would be the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002.

According to NHTSA’s early estimates, the fatality rate for the first quarter of 2022 increased to 1.27 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from the projected rate of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in the first quarter of 2021.

NHTSA recently began breaking out fatality trends by state for the quarterly estimates. While fatalities increased nationwide, 19 states and Puerto Rico saw traffic deaths decline during this period.

“The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction. Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety,” said Dr Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator.

As part of the US Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy to prevent traffic deaths, NHTSA launched a public education campaign last month to address one of America’s most dangerous driving behaviors – speeding.

NHTSA’s Speeding Wrecks Lives campaign aims to change general attitudes toward speeding and remind drivers of the deadly consequences

NHTSA has also launched its annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Labor Day high-visibility enforcement campaign, which focuses on preventing impaired driving and improving safety for all road users.