A report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows nearly 43,000 people died in 2021 as a result of traffic crashes, up from nearly 39,000 in 2020.
Miles driven by Americans increased by more than 11% from 2020 to 2021 and CHP officers say that might play a role in the increase in deaths.
"I will say there are just a lot more people out traveling on the roadways and with an increase in traffic there's going to be an increase in traffic collisions," said Miguel Alvarez, California Highway Patrol San Luis Obispo Public Information Officer.
Though CHP did not provide local statistics on crashes Alvarez says there likely has been an increase.
"We're always busy, there's definitely always a call that's waiting for us to go answer so it wouldn't surprise me if we've also seen an increase in crashes," said Alvarez.
His best tips for drivers are to stay off the phone and stay alert.
"If you're on the phone it actually decreases your ability to respond to things in front off you by 40%. So, basically just staying off your phone completely is always the best tip for me, but if you're going to do it just make sure you're doing it hands-free," said Alvarez.
"Yeah there's a lot more traffic out on the roads, and I drive a lot so I do see the difference," said commuter Hector Gutierrez.
Bakersfield resident, Hector Gutierrez, commutes to San Luis Obispo and says he hasn't noticed an increase in crashes on the road, but he has seen a significant increase in distracted driving.
"A lot of people on their phones. Mostly on their phones. A lot," said Gutierrez.
Ben Greenhaw frequently travels throughout San Luis Obispo County from San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles and says locally he hasn't noticed a significant change in traffic collisions.
"I haven't seen any incidents that are major, I've seen as a car fire but that's about it," said Ben Greenhaw, San Luis Obispo resident.