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How Many People Die in Car Accidents?
32 Morbid But Curious Stats & Facts

how many people die in car accidents featured image

Even a short drive is enough to make us wonder how many people die in car accidents each year. Speed limits are flouted, school zones are ignored, child-safety seats are misused, people drive under the influence…the list goes on and on. Hundreds of thousands of people die needlessly in a traffic collision each year.

Statistics say 90% of these deaths result from driver negligence or some other kind of human error – everything from using a cell phone while driving to having a loose pet in the car.

Reading about car accidents and roadside fatalities is a morbid exercise, but it’s also an eye-opener. If more drivers understood the risks, maybe the road would be a bit safer for all of us.

Editor’s Choice

  • Some of the most astonishing statistics include how many people die in car accidents in the US alone.
  • There were 36,120 fatalities on US roads in 2019.
  • With annual premiums of $2,878, Michigan is the most expensive state for auto insurance.
  • Texas is the #1 state for motor vehicle fatalities.
  • Teens account 8% of all car accident deaths.
  • Drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
  • Female drivers are implicated in about one-third of fatal crashes.
  • Small cars are involved in more than twice as many deadly accidents as four-door sedans.
  • The average auto-insurance claim for a collision is $3,547.
  • Seatbelts saved about 14,955 lives in 2017.

Those numbers give us a depressing insight into exactly how many people die in car accidents.

Many of the statistics that follow are from 2017 and 2018. That’s because the best sources of information – organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – take time to collect, analyze, and publish the numbers. In every case, we used the most current statistics currently available.

General Statistics

1. 1.35 million people die in road crashes every year.

(World Health Organization)

Automobile accidents are one of the top 10 causes of death across the globe. Many of these fatalities involve vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. This is especially true in Southeast Asia.

2. There were 36,120 road accident fatalities in the US in 2019.

(Reuters)

According to US car accident statistics, about 100 people die on America’s roads every day. This number has declined slightly compared to previous years, even as the traffic and number of vehicles on the roads have increased.

3. The world’s highest road traffic death rate is in Africa: 26.6 fatalities per 100,000 people.

(World Health Organization)

Africa leads when it comes to fatal traffic accidents. Southeast Asia is in second place, with 20.7 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people. The reasons for such high fatality rates include the average age and condition of vehicles, poor road-construction standard, and widespread disregard for traffic rules.

4. Car occupants make up 29% of all traffic accident deaths.

(World Health Organization)

Worldwide, drivers and passengers account for only about 29% of fatalities in car accidents. That’s the highest percentage, followed by motorcyclists and three-wheeler occupants at 28%.

5. The US suffers an unusually high rate of crash deaths compared to other high-income countries.

(Association for Safe International Road Travel)

The United States has the unique and unflattering distinction of being at the top of road crash deaths among high-income countries and regions like Canada, Western Europe, and Japan. The American rate is about 50% higher than in those countries.

6. In the US, the fatality rate is 1.1 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

(Reuters)

One way to gauge the fatality rate in road accidents is to compare fatalities against total miles traveled. This is a second meaningful way to analyze how many people die in car accidents in the US.

7. In 2018, drivers of cars and light vehicles made up the bulk of deaths (47%) on the road in the US.

(World Health Organization)

In 2018, drivers and passengers involved in car crashes that resulted in fatalities made up 64% of total road fatalities. For every passenger killed in a car accident, there were 2.7 dead drivers.

8. American vehicle fatalities dropped for the third consecutive year in 2019.

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

According to automotive accidents statistics, vehicle fatalities rose a record 8.4% in 2015 and 6.5% in 2016. Then the number of fatalities went down for three years consecutively. There were 1,686 fewer American vehicle fatalities in 2019 than there were in 2016.

9. The US traffic fatality rate is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

(Association for Safe International Road Travel)

A common way of measuring certain statistics is “per 100,000 people.” According to statistics, 12.4 out of 100,000 Americans die in car accidents each year.

10. Covid-19 reduced the number of cars on the road, but the fatality rate jumped 14% in March 2020.

(National Safety Council)

Many people thought the answer to “How many people die in car accidents a day?” would be lower during the pandemic, since relatively few people were out on the roads. But for the month of March, the fatality rate jumped 14% – most dramatically in the states of Connecticut and Louisiana.

how many people die in car accidents featured image 2Car Accident Statistics by State

National statistics give you large, scary numbers to deal with. But state-by-state numbers may be more useful in coming up with measures for reducing fatalities within particular regions.

11. The second-most-populated state ranks first in motor vehicle fatalities.

(Insurance Information Institute)

Texas, the second-most-populous state, tops the charts of car accident death statistics. The state saw 3,642 road fatalities in 2018. California’s numbers were pretty close at 3,563. The good part is that both states saw the numbers decline compared to 2017.

12. New York has the fewest motor vehicle deaths among the 10 most populous states.

(Insurance Information Institute)

About 943 people lost their lives on the roads of New York in 2018. This may reflect the fact that few people own and drive their own cars within New York City.

13. Two of the three American cities with the most traffic fatalities are in Texas.

(USA Today)

Odessa, Texas, had 36 fatalities per 100,000 people in 2018, while Midland saw 35.7 fatalities per 100,000 – making them two of the deadliest cities for drivers. These car accident death statistics should be taken into account when writing traffic laws and educating drivers about road safety.

14. New York has the fewest traffic fatalities per capita while Mississippi has the most.

(PersonalInjurySanDiego.org)

For every 100,000 people in the state, Mississippi lost 22.3 residents to road accidents in 2018. New York lost 4.8, making it one of the safest states for drivers. The second-safest state? Massachusetts.

15. Arkansas ranks second-highest for drivers not wearing seatbelts and seventh in traffic fatalities per capita.

(PersonalInjurySanDiego.org)

Car accident statistics reveal the highest concentration of seatbelt scofflaws in New Hampshire. Next is Arkansas, where only 78% of drivers wear seatbelts. Arkansas ranks seventh in traffic fatalities per 100,000.

Gender And Age

Driver profiling offers important insights. Curiously, in male vs. female car accident statistics, the US figures do not turn out as stereotypes suggest.

16. 78% of all teenage motor vehicle fatalities are in passenger vehicles.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Contrary to trends in other age groups, relatively few teen cyclists and pedestrians die in road accidents.

17. Teens made up 8% of all car accident deaths in 2018.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Teenage car accident statistics show that drivers between the ages of 13 and 19 made up 8% of all car accident deaths in 2018.

how many people die in car accidents featured image 318. Drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 are involved in the most fatal crashes.

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

In 2018, about 7,911 male and 2,823 female drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 were involved in fatal crashes, which is the largest number in one age group for both sexes. This doesn’t match the fatality rate per 100,000. There, the most affected age group is 21-24, with 15.9 deaths per 100,000.

19. Female drivers make up about one-third of the total fatal crashes.

(Statista)

Car accident statistics by age and gender make it clear that female drivers fare far better than their male counterparts.

20. There is little difference between male and female passenger fatalities in car accidents.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

While there is a huge discrepancy between the number of male and female drivers who get killed in traffic collisions, there is very little difference in the death rate between male and female passengers.

Vehicle Make and Model

Are some cars more vulnerable to fatal crashes? Car accident statistics by make and model can shed some light on this provocative question.

21. Ford and Chevrolet vehicles make up 43% of fatal vehicle crashes.

(Auto Insurance)

In 2017, Ford came out as the deadliest vehicle manufacturer, with its vehicles involved in 22% of all fatal collisions. Chevrolet came very close (21%). Toyota took third place. Its vehicles were involved in 12% of fatal accidents.

22. Three vehicles each from Chevrolet, Nissan, and KIA made the list of 14 cars with an abnormal number of fatal crashes.

(Forbes)

The make and model of a car have an important impact on car accident statistics. Forbes compiled a list of vehicles with model years between 2013 and 2017 that topped fatal-accident statistics. In the list of 14 vehicles, nine were from Chevrolet, Nissan, and KIA.

23. Among mid-size vehicles, the 2014-2017 Buick Verano and 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima have the highest overall death rate.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Among mid-size vehicles, the Buick Verano and Nissan Maxima both had a death rate of 68. But the two models don’t even come close to the pint-size Ford Fiesta, which had a death rate of 141 for the measured period.

24. Small cars are involved in more than twice as many fatal crashes as large sedans.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Miniature cars seem to be the worst victims (or perpetrators) of fatal crashes. If we measure deaths per million registered cars, mini-car models have a death rate of 108, while large sedans have a death rate of 52. Your choice of vehicle might determine your likelihood of having a serious accident – or surviving one.

25. Mid-size and large SUVs have some of the lowest rates of driver deaths.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Of 20 of the safest vehicles with the lowest rates of driver death, 12 are SUVs – mostly in the luxury category. Two minivans also made the list.

Vehicle Safety Facts and Statistics

Safety features of a vehicle are important, but it’s even more important to pick up some safe driving habits.

26. In 2016, about 2,756 American lives were saved because of airbags.

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

From 1987 to 2017, about 54,457 lives have been saved by frontal airbags. According to auto accident statistics from 2016, 2,756 drivers and front-seat passengers escaped death because the frontal airbags deployed on time.

27. Seatbelts saved about 14,955 lives in 2017 alone.

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

The combination of seatbelts and airbags might increase your chances of making it out alive after a crash, but data suggests that seatbelts are the best front line of defense.

28. About 9.3% drivers in the US don’t wear seatbelts.

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

According to automobile accident stats, 90.7% of drivers in the US wear seatbelts. The national average doesn’t reflect statewise tendencies, where Hawaii tops the seatbelt-wearing chart. In Georgia, California, and Oregon, more than 95% of drivers wear seatbelts.

29. Electronic stability control saved about 7,000 lives between 2011 and 2015.

(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

ESC helps a vehicle manage traction and automatically compensates when the tires lose grip. This comes in handy in areas where vehicles tend to lose traction due to snow.

30. So far, there have been five fatalities involving self-driving cars.

(Wikipedia)

Time for some straight talk about smart car accident statistics. The five fatalities that are attributed to driverless cars were not actually caused by purely autonomous vehicles, but by “Level 2” vehicles that rely on human drivers to stay aware of conditions and take control when needed. Four of these five incidents resulted in the driver’s death.

Car Insurance Stats

On a less morbid note, let’s take a look at some insurance stats, assuming that you’ve survived a collision and simply need your vehicle fixed.

31. Michigan is the most expensive state for auto insurance.

(Insurance Information Institute)

In Michigan, drivers pay an average of $2,878 per year on auto insurance. The second most expensive state is Louisiana. Accident statistics within a state or region have an impact on how costly the insurance is.

32. In 2018, the average collision auto claim was $3,547.

(Insurance Information Institute)

Collision claim frequency has been steadily increasing since 2009, along with the cost of those claims.

Conclusion

These stats should give you a reasonable idea of how many people die in car accidents and why. Wearing seatbelts is a good idea while driving. Talking on your cell phone isn’t. By adopting just a few good safety habits, you can dramatically decrease your chances of becoming a car accident statistic.

FAQ

How many people die in the US from car accidents each year?

About 38,000 people die every year in the US in car accidents.

How likely is it to die in a car accident?

You have a one in 103 chance of dying in a car crash. For comparison, the chances of dying from heart disease are one in six.

What state has the most fatal car accidents?

Texas and California usually have most of the fatal car accidents in the country. If we consider the fatalities per 100 million miles, South Carolina has one of the highest rates of fatal car accidents, followed by Kentucky.

What is the most dangerous city to drive in?

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is one of the most dangerous cities to drive in. Los Angles can also be considered dangerous, since it had the largest number of traffic fatalities in 2018.

Sources

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