The number of fatal traffic accidents in the first half of 2021 rose 18.4% compared to 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Thursday.
The big picture: An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes from January to June 2021 — the largest number of projected fatalities in that time period since 2006.
Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
It's also the largest six-month increase ever recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System's history, which has been in use since 1975.
Details: NHTSA reported that from March 2020 to June 2021, incidents of speeding and traveling without a seatbelt remain higher than before COVID-19.
In July, government data showed that throughout COVID-19, Americans drove less but engaged in risker behavior on the road.
What they're saying: "This is a crisis," 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."
“Today we are announcing that we will produce the Department’s first-ever National Roadway Safety Strategy to identify action steps for everyone working to save lives on the road," Buttigieg added. "No one will accomplish this alone."
Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.