Preliminary Monthly Estimates

Monthly Preliminary Motor-Vehicle Fatality Estimates – August 2021

August motor-vehicle deaths up 3% from last year!

Because of COVID-19-related impacts, the number of miles driven in 2020 decreased 13.2% compared to 2019. Now with the country starting to open back up, the number of miles driven in August 2021 increased 8.3% compared to August 2020, but was still down 4.5% from 2019 (pre-pandemic normal). The number of deaths for the first eight months of 2021 are estimated to be 29,750. This preliminary estimate is up 12% compared to 2020 and up 16% compared to 2019. Motor-vehicle deaths in August 2021 totaled 4,300; this preliminary estimate is up 3% from August 2020 and up 18% compared to August 2019. The increase in deaths this August was accompanied with a large increase in miles driven compared to August 2020, resulting in a monthly mileage death rate decrease of 4.8%. The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven for August 2021 is 1.57, compared to 1.65 in August 2020 and 1.27 in August 2019.

Mileage source: Federal Highway Administration

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Through August 2021, motor-vehicle deaths held steady or decreased in eight states compared to 2020:

  • Maine (-21 deaths, -19%)
  • Kansas (-45 deaths, -16%)
  • Nebraska (-19 deaths, -12%)
  • Rhode Island (-2 deaths, -4%)
  • Hawaii (-0 deaths, -0%)
  • Vermont (-0 deaths, -0%)
  • Wisconsin (-0 deaths, -0%)
  • Wyoming (-0 deaths, -0%)

Eight states experienced an increase of 20% or greater compared to last year through August:

  • Nevada (+63 deaths, +33%)
  • Idaho (+37 deaths, +29%)
  • Oregon (+79 deaths, +28%)
  • Minnesota (+62 deaths, +25%)
  • South Dakota (+20 deaths, +24%)
  • Illinois (+153 deaths, +23%)
  • California (+496 deaths, +23%)
  • Massachusetts (+43 deaths, +20%)

The line chart compares the 2021 monthly fatality trends against the 2020 and 2019 trends. Adjust the filter to select which years to compare. In August 2021, 18 states and the District of Columbia reported fewer deaths compared to August 2020 preliminary reports, five states reported the same number of deaths, and 27 states reported more deaths in August 2021 than August 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 and 2019 estimates, even if updated estimates are available.

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