Traffic Deaths Reach 13-Year High During Pandemic Despite Far Fewer Drivers On the Road

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News Releases

June 3, 2021

CONTACT: Adam Snider, 202-580-7930
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Statement by Pam Shadel Fischer, Senior Director of External Engagement, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 38,680 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2020 – the highest number since 2007 and an increase of 7.2% from the year before. Traffic deaths surged even though there was a significant decline in driving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Factoring in a 13.2% decrease in miles driven, the fatality rate in 2020 was 1.37 deaths per 100 million miles driven, up from 1.11 the year before.

This new data points to another tragic outcome of the pandemic – more deaths on our roadways caused by risky and dangerous driving like speeding, impaired driving and not wearing a seat belt. It’s mind-boggling and extremely frustrating to see the tremendous loss of life from COVID compounded by preventable traffic crashes. As more drivers get back behind the wheel this summer, the spike in traffic deaths is an ominous sign for the safety of our nation’s road users.

Throughout the pandemic, Americans have worked collectively to protect themselves and each other by wearing masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated. We must exhibit that same diligence when it comes to safety on our roads. Slow down, buckle up, stow your phone and never drive impaired. By doing so, we can end this deadly driving epidemic and save thousands of lives.

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About GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Visit for more information or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.