The first half of 2021 has seen more than 20,000 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The figure is roughly an 18% increase from the number of traffic fatalities recorded in the first half of last year.
During the first six months of 2020, 17,020 people died in traffic accidents.
America has not seen this many deaths related to traffic crashes during the first half of a year since 2006.
Furthermore, the 18.4% increase in traffic fatalities tracked in the first half of this year is the highest half-year percentage increase recorded in the history of data collected by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the grim, record-setting numbers “a crisis.”
“More than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America,” Buttigieg said in a statement.
The secretary said the department is establishing the first National Roadway Safety Strategy to identify action steps for everyone working to save lives on the road.
“It will take all levels of government, industries, advocates, engineers, and communities across the country working together toward the day when family members no longer have to say goodbye to loved ones because of a traffic crash,” he added.
Incidents marked by speeding and a lack of seatbelts in the first half of this year were higher than recorded in pre-pandemic times, according to research from NHTSA released by the Department of Transportation.