Motor-vehicle deaths for the first six months of 2021 were 21,450 — up 16% from 18,480 in 2020 and up 17% from 18,384 in 2019, according to preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council.
The council says the increase in lost lives is a trend that began last year during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and reverses more than 15 years of progress in preventing fatalities on the nation’s roadways.
People are taking to the roads more frequently in 2021 and as miles traveled started to rebound, so too, did the fatality rate.
Mileage in the first six months of 2021 rebounded 13% from COVID lows in 2020 but still lags 2019 mileage by nearly 6%. The estimated mileage death rate in 2021 is 1.43 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up 3% from 1.39 in 2020 and up 24% from 1.39 in 2019.
Simply put, the council’s report indicates that our roadways are becoming more dangerous.
For example, preliminary estimates indicate that select states experienced staggering fatality increases of 30% or more. South Dakota and Oregon both saw an alarming 51% increase in deaths, followed by Minnesota with 41%, Idaho with 39%, Nevada with 38%, Utah with 36%, Vermont with 33%, and Tennessee with 30%.
The report offers some positive news. Six states experienced fatality decreases in the first half of 2021. These include Maine, Kansas, Alaska, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Wisconsin.