An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. during the first half of 2021, up 18 percent from the previous year, according to a new report.

It marks the largest six month increase ever recorded by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fatality analysis reporting system’s history.

“This is a crisis,” said United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “More than 20,000 people died on US roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.”

In addition to the traffic fatality data, NHTSA has also released behavioral research findings from March 2020 through June 2021, indicating that incidents of speeding and traveling without a seat belt remain higher than during pre-pandemic times.

The Department has announced it will produce the first ever National Roadway Safety Strategy to identify action steps to save lives on the road, targeting the most significant and urgent problems.