Traffic-related deaths have gone up almost 20% this year across the U.S.
According to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 20,000 people have died on U.S. roads in the first half of 2021.
That's an increase of about 18.4% from 2020.
Locally, we checked in with California Highway Patrol offices located in Buellton and San Luis Obispo.
According to Keith Rogers with the Buellton CHP office, in 2020 they saw 7 fatal collisions and in 2021 they've seen a total of 9 fatal collisions so far.
He says the majority of these fatalities have to do with situations like driving under the influence, traveling at an unsafe speed, and making unsafe turns and passes on the highway.
"That's not including some other factors that we may not know about but we know are certainly there like distracted driving, cellphones, eating, drinking, putting on makeup,” Rogers said.
In San Luis Obispo, CHP officials there have also seen an increase. In 2020, 8 fatal collisions were reported and in 2021, 11 fatal collisions have been reported.
U.S. Transportation officials are calling this a "crisis," adding people cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.
Local CHP officers say their ultimate goal is to lower the mileage to death ratio.
"Recently, this past summer, we utilized grants such as 'Safe on all Roads.' These grants allow us to put more officers on the road during problematic times and help make enforcement action and educate the public in unsafe driving practices,” Rogers said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is set to release a national roadway safety strategy this upcoming January in hopes of reducing serious injuries and deaths.