U.S. Traffic Accident Fatalities Surged More than 18% in First Half of 2021
More than 20,000 people across the United States were killed in motor vehicle crashes during the first six months of the year, an 18.4% jump compared to the same period last year.
20,106 U.S. Roadway Deaths Reported from January through June
According to early estimates from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 20,106 traffic-related deaths were reported nationwide from January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021.
That’s 3,086 more than the 17,020 traffic fatalities reported for the first six months of 2020. It also represents the highest number of crash deaths recorded during the first half of the year since 2006.
“More than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.”
Traffic Deaths Up in Every Region of the U.S.
Highway fatalities have been on the increase since last year. Despite pandemic-related shutdowns and fewer vehicles on the road, 38,680 people died along the nation’s roads and highways during all of 2020, an increase of more than 7% over the prior year and the highest number recorded since 2007.
The surge observed in the first half of 2021 did correspond with an increase in traffic volume, reflecting the easing of pandemic restrictions. However, incidents attributed to speeding and a lack of seatbelts were higher than recorded in the pre-pandemic era.
Unfortunately, no area of the country was spared.
NHTSA Region 10 – which includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington – saw the greatest increase in traffic deaths during the first half of 2021, at 26%. Region 7, which encompasses Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, reported an 8% jump, the smallest increase in the nation.
Region 6, which includes Texas, as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, experienced an 18% increase in traffic fatality deaths during the first six months of this year.
Texas Roadways Near 21 Years Without a Deathless Day
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 1,636 people died on the state’s roads and highways in the first five months of 2021. That figure represents a 14% increase compared to the same period last year and puts the Lone Star State on track to record more than 4,000 highway fatalities this year alone.
Sadly, Texas is nearing yet another tragic milestone, as Sunday, November 7th will mark 21 years without a deathless day on its roadways. More than 75,000 innocent lives have been lost across the state due to preventable fatal crashes in the past two-plus decades. While Texas had been seeing about 10 traffic deaths every single day in recent years, the daily fatality rose to 11 during the height of pandemic – even though there were 50% fewer vehicles on the road.
Most fatal crashes are preventable and caused by speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and other reckless behaviors. As part of its #EndTheStreakTX campaign, transportation officials are urging Texans to help raise awareness by:
- Make the best and safest decisions behind the wheel and encourage others to do the same.
- Post pictures on social media with this downloadable sign displaying the hashtag #EndTheStreakTX.
- Share personal stories on social media of loved ones who have been lost in a crash and use the hashtag #EndTheStreakTX.
- Follow @txdot social media pages and share the posted content.
While the goal of ending the deadly streak is ambitious, Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan insists it’s far from impossible.
“We stick with it. We keep telling the story. We fight back when people say personal responsibility is not a thing. It is. And we don’t give up,” she said. “I am hopeful that it will happen sooner than later, but I am confident that it will happen.”
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