Eighty people killed in crashes in 2022 — including drivers, pedestrians and passengers — were under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other medication last year, accounting for 22.7% of car crash fatalities, compared to 15.7% in 2015.

An estimated 368 people died in car crashes in Connecticut in 2022, the first time the state has recorded an average of more than one traffic fatality per day.

Drivers under the influence accounted for 19% of all people who died in car crashes, up from 13.4% in 2015.

Read more: Report: About 19% of CT youth ‘disconnected’ or ‘at risk’ in 2021-22

But despite being the deadliest year on record, the total number of car crashes remained below pre-pandemic levels, according to data compiled by the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

So there are fewer crashes on the road, but they’re deadlier.

And while fatal crashes have made up less than 1% of total crashes each year, they still took the lives of more than 2,300 people since 2015. Many of them were DUI-involved crashes, wrong-way crashes, or caused by distractions, among other reasons.

It's not just Connecticut — 23 states were projected to see an increase in fatalities in 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although counts are not final due to a lag and complexity in data gathering. More complete data is available for 2021, which showed that Connecticut ranked seventh in the nation for its share of traffic fatalities related to alcohol-impaired driving.

Demographics of people involved in car crashes

Of the thousands of fatalities since 2015, 65% of them were the driver, 19% were pedestrians and about 13% were passengers.

As for age groups, the highest-hit was the 18-34 year old group at 893 deaths since 2015, making up 35% of the total. The 35-49 and 50-64 groups each made up a fifth of the total.

Most of the crashes are happening in largely populated cities such as New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford. But 47 towns had more crashes in 2022 than in 2015. 

In Plainfield, there were 300 crashes last year compared to a low of 191 seven years ago, a 57% increase. In Norwalk, crashes have consistently been above 3,400 each year, with 2020 as an exception and compared to a low of 2,565 in 2015.