• January 14th, 2021

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is continuing its exploration of traffic safety during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This work is crucial to furthering our understanding of changes in potentially dangerous driving behaviors and allows us to expand or evolve countermeasures to meet current needs in States and across the country.

In October 2020, NHTSA released two reports related to COVID-19. The first was a synthesis of data on traffic safety during the second quarter (Q2) of the year, covering the months of April to June, providing context to understand changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in 2020. While traffic crash fatalities had declined to date in 2020, the fatality rate had increased. The second was an interim report on research examining the presence of drugs and alcohol in road users who were seriously and fatally injured in crashes; it noted increased prevalence of alcohol and some other drugs among these individuals. These reports provided context to data from NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) released at the same time. NCSA provided initial data on motor vehicle fatality numbers in 2020. In the first half of 2020, NCSA estimated that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) had risen year-over-year, from a rate of 1.06 in 2019 to a projected rate of 1.25 in 2020 (NCSA, 2020). In that report, NCSA also reported a reduction in VMT of 264.2 billion miles – about a 16.6% decrease – in the first 6 months of 2020.

Read the full Q3 report here.