Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its “Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the first Half (January-June) of 2021.” The report shows the biggest six-month increase recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history. An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, up 18.4% from 2020. That’s the largest number of projected fatalities in that time since 2006.
Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration show vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first half of 2021 increased by about 13%. The fatality rate for the first half of 2021 increased to 1.34 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from the projected rate of 1.28 fatalities per 100 million VMT in the first half of 2020.
These alarming statistics follow preliminary estimates of increases in crash fatalities in 2020. While Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, NHTSA’s early estimates show an estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007. This represents an increase of about 7.2% as compared to the 36,096 fatalities reported in 2019.
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