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These states saw car deaths spike at least 30% in first half of this year

Rate of fatal traffic accidents increasing
Rate of fatal traffic accidents increasing 02:08

As coronavirus vaccines rolled out across the U.S. and Americans got back on the road after months of sticking close to home, newly released data shows motor vehicle deaths are on the rise. According to estimates released Wednesday from the nonprofit National Safety Council, 21,450 people died on the road during the first six months of 2021, an increase from the number of traffic fatalities during the first half of each of the past two years.

Eight states saw increases of 30% or more in vehicle deaths from the first half of 2020 to 2021, according to the safety council's estimates. Those states are:

  • Oregon with 261 deaths, a 51% increase
  • South Dakota with 65 deaths, a 51% increase
  • Minnesota with 211 deaths, a 41% increase
  • Idaho with 107 deaths, a 39% increase
  • Nevada with 181 deaths, a 38% increase
  • Utah with 150 deaths, a 36% increase
  • Vermont with 28 deaths, a 33% increase
  • Tennessee with 682 deaths, a 30% increase
A vehicle was involved in a four-fatality crash in Richmond, Virginia, May 26, 2021.
A vehicle was involved in a four-fatality crash in Richmond, Virginia, May 26, 2021. Virginia State Police via AP

The safety council estimated there were 18,480 traffic deaths during the first half of 2020 and 18,384 in the first six months of 2019. The safety council's president and CEO, Lorraine Martin, said too many people were dying on America's roads.

"These figures are not only alarming but devastating as we see once again too many lives lost on the roads," Martin said in a statement. "It is up to each and every one of us to do everything we can to be safe and keep each other safe."

Not all states saw increases. The safety council said six states are seeing fewer traffic fatalities compared to last year, and they are:

  • Maine with 54 deaths, a 22% decrease
  • Kansas with 166 deaths, a 19% decrease
  • Alaska with 22 deaths, an 8% decrease
  • Rhode Island with 32 deaths, a 6% decrease
  • Connecticut with 147 deaths, a 1% decrease
  • Wisconsin with 242 deaths, a 1% decrease

But after an estimated 42,000 people were killed in vehicles in 2020, safety council vice president Mark Chung said America's roads were becoming more dangerous.

"We need to help each other in making the roads in our communities safer for all users," Chung said in a statement. "If you witness unsafe driving behaviors, say something if you are able and possibly save someone from losing their life."

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