Statement on Dramatic Rise in Crash Deaths During the First Half of 2021

  • October 28, 2021
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

CONTACT: Pete Daniels / / 301-442-2249 (C)

Statement from Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on Dramatic Rise in Crash Deaths During the First Half of 2021

Largest 6-month increase in fatalities ever recorded continues the deadly trend on our nation’s roadways.  Urgent action by the U.S. Department of Transportation to advance proven solutions cannot come fast enough.


More than 20,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes during the first half of 2021, according to the latest estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  This devastating figure represents a nearly 20 percent increase in fatalities from the same period in 2020.  This is the largest six-month increase the agency has ever recorded in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).  Also noted was the fact that as more cars returned to the roadways during this period, the fatality rate continued to increase.  The dangerous and deadly decisions by some motorists observed in 2020 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, speeding and not buckling up, have continued.

This public safety crisis requires decisive action by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), where progress on requirements and performance standards for lifesaving vehicle safety technology has been overdue for far too long.  Every new vehicle should be equipped with proven crash avoidance technology, impaired driving prevention technology and other commonsense upgrades.

Safety systems should be standard equipment and not exclusive to high-end cars or included in costly luxury packages outside the budget of many families.  At a minimum, every family deserves the safest braking systems, automatic emergency braking (AEB), and the verification of the federal agency charged with regulating the auto industry that AEB will perform as needed.

Motorists and road users are being killed needlessly while proven solutions are deferred, delayed or dormant.   We call upon U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his team to expeditiously issue new safety requirements to protect all road users.  We also urge state legislatures to prioritize closing gaps in critical traffic safety laws, as identified by Advocates’ Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws.


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to improve road safety in the U.S.  Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.