Preliminary Monthly Estimates

Monthly Preliminary Motor-Vehicle Fatality Estimates – February 2021

February motor-vehicle deaths down 4% from last year

Because of COVID-19-related impacts, the number of miles driven in 2020 decreased 13.2% compared to 2019. However, this decrease did not start until March 2020, with January and February 2020 experiencing typical levels of travel. The number of miles driven in February 2021 decreased 12.1% compared to February 2020. Deaths for the first two months of 2021 are estimated to be 6,160. This preliminary estimate is up 6% compared to 2020. Motor-vehicle deaths in February 2021 totaled 2,710. This preliminary estimate is down 4% from February 2020. February is the first month showing a year-over-year decrease after eight consecutive monthly decreases compared to the prior year. The slight decrease in deaths combined with the large decrease in miles driven results in a monthly mileage death rate increase of 9.1% compared to February 2020. The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven for February 2021 is 1.32, compared to 1.21 in 2020.

Mileage source: Federal Highway Administration

The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage through February 2021 was $69 billion.

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Through February 2021, motor-vehicle deaths decreased by 20% or more in nine states and the District of Columbia compared to the first two months of 2021:

  • Kansas (-27 deaths, -43%)
  • New York (-44 deaths, -40%)
  • Virginia (-43 deaths, -32%)
  • District of Columbia (-2 deaths, -29%)
  • Iowa (-11 deaths, -28%)
  • New Hampshire (-5 deaths, -28%)
  • Connecticut (-10 deaths, -22%)
  • Delaware (-4 deaths, -22%)
  • New Mexico (-15 deaths, -22%)
  • Oklahoma (-17 deaths, -20%)

Eight states experienced an increase of 25% or more:

  • North Dakota (+14 deaths, +467%)
  • Wyoming (+8 deaths, +133%)
  • Montana (+17 deaths, +121%)
  • Vermont (+3 deaths, +75%)
  • California (+126 deaths, +34%)
  • Mississippi (+27 deaths, +31%)
  • Oregon (+17 deaths, +30%)
  • Indiana (+22 deaths, +25%)

The line chart compares the 2021 monthly fatality trends against the 2020 and 2019 trends. In February 2021, 31 states reported fewer deaths compared to February 2020 preliminary reports, four states reported no change, and 15 states and the District of Columbia reported more deaths in February 2021 than February 2020. Please use the data table to view detailed state preliminary estimates.

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NSC preliminary motor vehicle fatality estimates do not include U.S. territories.

How the National Safety Council Calculates Crash Fatality Estimates

The National Safety Council (NSC) collects preliminary motor-vehicle fatality estimates from data reporters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. State data reporters generally work in state Department of Transportation offices and are often the same individuals responsible for providing data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Each month, state data reporters provide a first estimate for the previous month’s fatalities and updated estimates for all previously reported months.

NSC maintains a three-year database of all state motor-vehicle fatality estimate reports. Using January as an example, the NSC database includes the January estimate first reported in February, as well as any updated January estimates reported in March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.

Fatality estimates tend to mature over the course of the year. Numbers often increase as fatalities are confirmed. Because of the maturation of the data, NSC calculates year-to-year percent change estimates by comparing monthly motor-vehicle estimates of comparable maturity.

To calculate national fatality estimates, percent change estimates are multiplied by the most recently available final motor-vehicle fatality estimates reported by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Therefore, NSC estimates reflect the NCHS definition of motor-vehicle fatalities as both traffic and non-traffic deaths that occur within a year of the incident. Since NHTSA counts only traffic deaths that occur within 30 days of the incident, NSC motor-vehicle fatality estimates are not comparable to NHTSA figures.

All state level data are displayed as reported by each state. All fatality estimates are preliminary. To ensure proper comparisons, 2020 state fatality estimates are preliminary figures covering the same reporting period as those for 2021. In other words, preliminary 2021 estimates are compared to preliminary 2020 estimates, even if updated estimates are available.

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