Monthly Preliminary Motor-Vehicle Fatality Estimates – March 2022
Typically, motor-vehicle deaths display a distinct, seasonal pattern with peaks occurring in summer and fall, and the fewest deaths occurring in February. This seasonal trend is strongly influenced by a similar mileage trend (more miles traveled in summer and fewer miles traveled in winter). Death rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also tend to be highest in the summer and fall and lowest in the winter, particularly in February.
During and following the great recession of 2008 and 2009, mileage, deaths, and death rates per 100 million miles traveled all decreased. These decreases occurred gradually over months and years. The lowest number of deaths, miles driven, and death rates did not occur until February 2010, well after the recession ended.
The impact that COVID-19 had on motor-vehicle fatality trends was dramatic and distinctly different from previous recession periods. First, the impact on the number of deaths has occurred very rapidly; decreasing 3% in March 2020 and 17% in April 2020. Starting in June 2020, we saw trends rapidly reversing, with a 16% increase compared to the previous year. During the summer months of 2021, the rapid increase in the number of deaths plateaued, increasing only 1% on average per month. Now with the country reopened, March 2022 mileage is up 2.9% compared to 2021 and up 1.8% compared to pre-pandemic 2019. With the increasing mileage combined with an increase in deaths, the March 2022 death rate increased only 0.8% compared to March 2021.
View the monthly motor-vehicle historic trends by playing the animation. Use the forward button to auto-advance the animation, the back button to go back, and the stop button to pause. You can also use the scroll bar above the buttons to fill in the chart to your desired point in time; dragging the scroll bar all the way right brings the timeline to the present. Use the “Select Month” filter to explore historic trends by month.
- Data Table
Death data from 1999 through 2020 are from NCHS. Preliminary death counts starting in 2021 are NSC estimates. Motor-vehicle rates are based on mileage estimates from the Federal Highway Administration. Recession periods are from the National Bureau of Economic Research.