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Road Deaths Are Soaring Even as Americans Are Driving Less

Larger vehicles, higher speed limits, and poor road design are among the likely causes of the spike.
A memorial in Knoxville, Tenn., for 15-month-old Haizley Roper, who was fatally injured in a car crash in May.

A memorial in Knoxville, Tenn., for 15-month-old Haizley Roper, who was fatally injured in a car crash in May.

Photographer: Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel/USA Today Network

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Data on U.S. traffic fatalities in 2020 shocked safety advocates: At a time when people were driving less, deaths jumped. In fact, they were higher last year than in any year since 2007.

And 2021 could be even worse. The federal government estimates that 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of this year. That’s an 18.4% increase from the same period in 2020.