Yearly snapshot | 2015

A total of 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent estimate of the annual economic cost of crashes was $242 billion dollars. Blincoe, L.J.; Miller, T.R.; Zaloshnja, E. and Lawrence, B.A. 2015. The economic and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes, 2010 (revised). Report no. DOT HS-812-013. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Contributing to the death toll are alcohol, speeding, lack of safety belt use and other problematic driver behaviors. Death rates vary by vehicle type, driver age and gender, and other factors.

In 1975, the U.S. Department of Transportation started an annual census of motor vehicle deaths, recording information on crash type, vehicle type, road type, driver characteristics and a variety of other factors. Institute researchers analyze these data each year to quantify the public health problem of motor vehicle deaths.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Posted November 2016.

Trends

A total of 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015. These deaths occurred in 32,166 crashes involving 48,923 motor vehicles. This was a 7 percent increase in deaths compared with 2014 and was the highest number of traffic deaths since 2008.

Number of deaths, crashes and motor vehicles in fatal crashes, 1975-2015
YearDeathsCrashesMotor vehicles
1975 44,525 39,161 55,534
1976 45,523 39,747 56,084
1977 47,878 42,211 60,516
1978 50,331 44,433 64,144
1979 51,093 45,223 64,762
1980 51,091 45,284 63,485
1981 49,301 44,000 62,699
1982 43,945 39,092 56,455
1983 42,589 37,976 55,106
1984 44,257 39,631 57,972
1985 43,825 39,196 58,272
1986 46,087 41,090 60,792
1987 46,390 41,438 61,836
1988 47,087 42,130 62,703
1989 45,582 40,741 60,870
1990 44,599 39,836 59,292
1991 41,508 36,937 54,795
1992 39,250 34,942 52,227
1993 40,150 35,780 53,777
1994 40,716 36,254 54,911
1995 41,817 37,241 56,524
1996 42,065 37,494 57,347
1997 42,013 37,324 57,060
1998 41,501 37,107 56,922
1999 41,717 37,140 56,820
2000 41,945 37,526 57,594
2001 42,196 37,862 57,918
2002 43,005 38,491 58,426
2003 42,884 38,477 58,877
2004 42,836 38,444 58,729
2005 43,510 39,252 59,495
2006 42,708 38,648 58,094
2007 41,259 37,435 56,253
2008 37,423 34,172 50,660
2009 33,883 30,862 45,540
2010 32,999 30,296 44,862
2011 32,479 29,867 44,119
2012 33,782 31,006 45,960
2013 32,894 30,203 45,102
2014 32,744 30,056 44,950
2015 35,092 32,166 48,923

Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 population in 2015 is about half of what it was 40 years ago. However, the overall per capita death rate and the per capita death rate for passenger vehicle occupants in 2015 increased 6 percent from the rates in 2014.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by type, 1975-2015
YearPopulationPassenger vehicle occupantsPedestrians Motorcyclists Bicyclists Large truck occupants All motor vehicle deaths*
NumberRateNumberRateNumberRateNumberRateNumberRateNumberRate
1975 215,973,199 30,601 14.2 7,516 3.5 3,106 1.4 1,003 0.5 916 0.4 44,525 20.6
1976 218,035,164 31,724 14.5 7,427 3.4 3,232 1.5 914 0.4 1,100 0.5 45,523 20.9
1977 220,239,425 32,823 14.9 7,732 3.5 4,004 1.8 922 0.4 1,229 0.6 47,878 21.7
1978 222,584,545 34,923 15.7 7,795 3.5 4,448 2.0 892 0.4 1,315 0.6 50,331 22.6
1979 225,055,487 35,026 15.6 8,096 3.6 4,712 2.1 932 0.4 1,372 0.6 51,093 22.7
1980 227,224,719 34,996 15.4 8,070 3.6 4,955 2.2 965 0.4 1,183 0.5 51,091 22.5
1981 229,465,608 33,711 14.7 7,837 3.4 4,737 2.1 936 0.4 1,082 0.5 49,301 21.5
1982 231,664,496 29,656 12.8 7,331 3.2 4,267 1.8 864 0.4 917 0.4 43,945 19.0
1983 233,791,903 29,154 12.5 6,826 2.9 4,099 1.8 830 0.4 960 0.4 42,589 18.2
1984 235,824,783 30,094 12.8 7,025 3.0 4,425 1.9 838 0.4 1,040 0.4 44,257 18.8
1985 237,923,732 29,848 12.5 6,808 2.9 4,415 1.9 869 0.4 941 0.4 43,825 18.4
1986 240,132,841 32,224 13.4 6,779 2.8 4,309 1.8 929 0.4 892 0.4 46,087 19.2
1987 242,289,023 33,145 13.7 6,745 2.8 3,832 1.6 940 0.4 821 0.3 46,390 19.1
1988 244,498,836 34,105 13.9 6,870 2.8 3,491 1.4 901 0.4 886 0.4 47,087 19.3
1989 246,819,119 33,599 13.6 6,556 2.7 3,030 1.2 822 0.3 822 0.3 45,582 18.5
1990 249,464,396 32,711 13.1 6,482 2.6 3,128 1.3 853 0.3 684 0.3 44,599 17.9
1991 252,153,092 30,810 12.2 5,801 2.3 2,702 1.1 836 0.3 650 0.3 41,508 16.5
1992 255,029,699 29,457 11.6 5,549 2.2 2,291 0.9 717 0.3 580 0.2 39,250 15.4
1993 257,782,608 29,994 11.6 5,649 2.2 2,346 0.9 806 0.3 590 0.2 40,150 15.6
1994 260,327,021 30,820 11.8 5,489 2.1 2,215 0.9 796 0.3 658 0.3 40,716 15.6
1995 262,803,276 31,914 12.1 5,584 2.1 2,138 0.8 828 0.3 634 0.2 41,817 15.9
1996 265,228,572 32,354 12.2 5,449 2.1 2,077 0.8 761 0.3 602 0.2 42,065 15.9
1997 267,783,607 32,343 12.1 5,321 2.0 2,056 0.8 811 0.3 717 0.3 42,013 15.7
1998 270,248,003 31,781 11.8 5,228 1.9 2,227 0.8 757 0.3 739 0.3 41,501 15.4
1999 272,690,813 32,008 11.7 4,939 1.8 2,419 0.9 750 0.3 747 0.3 41,717 15.3
2000 282,192,162 32,109 11.4 4,763 1.7 2,829 1.0 689 0.2 737 0.3 41,945 14.9
2001 285,102,075 31,938 11.2 4,901 1.7 3,123 1.1 729 0.3 691 0.2 42,196 14.8
2002 287,941,220 32,724 11.4 4,851 1.7 3,187 1.1 663 0.2 675 0.2 43,005 14.9
2003 290,788,976 32,166 11.1 4,774 1.6 3,641 1.3 626 0.2 703 0.2 42,884 14.7
2004 293,655,404 31,750 10.8 4,675 1.6 3,904 1.3 722 0.2 743 0.3 42,836 14.6
2005 296,410,404 31,455 10.6 4,892 1.7 4,460 1.5 784 0.3 758 0.3 43,510 14.7
2006 299,398,484 30,628 10.2 4,795 1.6 4,699 1.6 769 0.3 774 0.3 42,708 14.3
2007 301,621,157 29,155 9.7 4,699 1.6 5,050 1.7 699 0.2 745 0.2 41,259 13.7
2008 304,059,724 25,547 8.4 4,414 1.5 5,112 1.7 716 0.2 615 0.2 37,423 12.3
2009 307,006,550 23,507 7.7 4,109 1.3 4,286 1.4 628 0.2 449 0.1 33,883 11.0
2010 308,745,538 22,351 7.2 4,302 1.4 4,324 1.4 621 0.2 475 0.2 32,999 10.7
2011 311,591,917 21,413 6.9 4,457 1.4 4,403 1.4 680 0.2 555 0.2 32,479 10.4
2012 313,914,040 21,906 7.0 4,818 1.5 4,695 1.5 730 0.2 590 0.2 33,782 10.8
2013 316,128,839 21,361 6.8 4,779 1.5 4,402 1.4 747 0.2 589 0.2 32,894 10.4
2014 318,857,056 21,131 6.6 4,910 1.5 4,302 1.3 723 0.2 585 0.2 32,744 10.3
2015 321,418,820 22,543 7.0 5,376 1.7 4,693 1.5 817 0.3 600 0.2 35,092 10.9

Sixty-four percent of crash fatalities in 2015 were passenger vehicle occupants, 15 percent were pedestrians, 13 percent were motorcyclists, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large trucks.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by type, 1975-2015
YearPassenger vehicle occupantsPedestrians Motorcyclists Bicyclists Large truck occupants Other All motor vehicle deaths
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number
1975 30,601 69 7,516 17 3,106 7 1,003 2 916 2 1,383 3 44,525
1976 31,724 70 7,427 16 3,232 7 914 2 1,100 2 1,126 2 45,523
1977 32,823 69 7,732 16 4,004 8 922 2 1,229 3 1,168 2 47,878
1978 34,923 69 7,795 15 4,448 9 892 2 1,315 3 958 2 50,331
1979 35,026 69 8,096 16 4,712 9 932 2 1,372 3 955 2 51,093
1980 34,996 68 8,070 16 4,955 10 965 2 1,183 2 922 2 51,091
1981 33,711 68 7,837 16 4,737 10 936 2 1,082 2 998 2 49,301
1982 29,656 67 7,331 17 4,267 10 864 2 917 2 910 2 43,945
1983 29,154 68 6,826 16 4,099 10 830 2 960 2 720 2 42,589
1984 30,094 68 7,025 16 4,425 10 838 2 1,040 2 835 2 44,257
1985 29,848 68 6,808 16 4,415 10 869 2 941 2 944 2 43,825
1986 32,224 70 6,779 15 4,309 9 929 2 892 2 954 2 46,087
1987 33,145 71 6,745 15 3,832 8 940 2 821 2 907 2 46,390
1988 34,105 72 6,870 15 3,491 7 901 2 886 2 834 2 47,087
1989 33,599 74 6,556 14 3,030 7 822 2 822 2 753 2 45,582
1990 32,711 73 6,482 15 3,128 7 853 2 684 2 741 2 44,599
1991 30,810 74 5,801 14 2,702 7 836 2 650 2 709 2 41,508
1992 29,457 75 5,549 14 2,291 6 717 2 580 1 656 2 39,250
1993 29,994 75 5,649 14 2,346 6 806 2 590 1 765 2 40,150
1994 30,820 76 5,489 13 2,215 5 796 2 658 2 738 2 40,716
1995 31,914 76 5,584 13 2,138 5 828 2 634 2 719 2 41,817
1996 32,354 77 5,449 13 2,077 5 761 2 602 1 822 2 42,065
1997 32,343 77 5,321 13 2,056 5 811 2 717 2 765 2 42,013
1998 31,781 77 5,228 13 2,227 5 757 2 739 2 769 2 41,501
1999 32,008 77 4,939 12 2,419 6 750 2 747 2 854 2 41,717
2000 32,109 77 4,763 11 2,829 7 689 2 737 2 818 2 41,945
2001 31,938 76 4,901 12 3,123 7 729 2 691 2 814 2 42,196
2002 32,724 76 4,851 11 3,187 7 663 2 675 2 905 2 43,005
2003 32,166 75 4,774 11 3,641 8 626 1 703 2 974 2 42,884
2004 31,750 74 4,675 11 3,904 9 722 2 743 2 1,042 2 42,836
2005 31,455 72 4,892 11 4,460 10 784 2 758 2 1,161 3 43,510
2006 30,628 72 4,795 11 4,699 11 769 2 774 2 1,043 2 42,708
2007 29,155 71 4,699 11 5,050 12 699 2 745 2 911 2 41,259
2008 25,547 68 4,414 12 5,112 14 716 2 615 2 1,019 3 37,423
2009 23,507 69 4,109 12 4,286 13 628 2 449 1 904 3 33,883
2010 22,351 68 4,302 13 4,324 13 621 2 475 1 926 3 32,999
2011 21,413 66 4,457 14 4,403 14 680 2 555 2 971 3 32,479
2012 21,906 65 4,818 14 4,695 14 730 2 590 2 1,043 3 33,782
2013 21,361 65 4,779 15 4,402 13 747 2 589 2 1,016 3 32,894
2014 21,131 65 4,910 15 4,302 13 723 2 585 2 1,093 3 32,744
2015 22,543 64 5,376 15 4,693 13 817 2 600 2 1,063 3 35,092

The rate of crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled increased from an all-time low of 1.08 in 2014 to 1.13 in 2015. This rate is three times lower than the all time high rate of 3.36 in 1980. Federal Highway Administration. 2016. Highway statistics, 2014. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled, 1975-2015
YearDeathsMiles travelled (millions)Rate
1975 44,525 1,330,074 3.35
1976 45,523 1,409,163 3.23
1977 47,878 1,476,567 3.24
1978 50,331 1,548,213 3.25
1979 51,093 1,529,133 3.34
1980 51,091 1,520,857 3.36
1981 49,301 1,550,271 3.18
1982 43,945 1,592,481 2.76
1983 42,589 1,649,106 2.58
1984 44,257 1,716,768 2.58
1985 43,825 1,774,762 2.47
1986 46,087 1,838,240 2.51
1987 46,390 1,924,327 2.41
1988 47,087 2,025,586 2.32
1989 45,582 2,107,040 2.16
1990 44,599 2,147,501 2.08
1991 41,508 2,172,214 1.91
1992 39,250 2,239,828 1.75
1993 40,150 2,296,585 1.75
1994 40,716 2,357,588 1.73
1995 41,817 2,422,775 1.73
1996 42,065 2,482,202 1.69
1997 42,013 2,560,373 1.64
1998 41,501 2,625,367 1.58
1999 41,717 2,691,335 1.55
2000 41,945 2,749,803 1.53
2001 42,196 2,781,462 1.52
2002 43,005 2,855,756 1.51
2003 42,884 2,890,893 1.48
2004 42,836 2,962,513 1.45
2005 43,510 2,989,807 1.46
2006 42,708 3,014,116 1.42
2007 41,259 3,032,399 1.36
2008 37,423 2,973,509 1.26
2009 33,883 2,977,591 1.14
2010 32,999 2,966,506 1.11
2011 32,479 2,946,131 1.10
2012 33,782 2,969,433 1.14
2013 32,894 2,988,280 1.10
2014 32,744 3,025,656 1.08
2015 35,092 3,095,373 1.13

Age and gender

At all ages, males had higher per capita crash death rates than females in 2015. Males ages 20-24 and 85 and older had the highest rates of crash deaths, and females ages 12 and younger had the lowest rate.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2015
AgeMale Female Total*
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRate
<13 26,938,198 520 1.9 25,808,897 417 1.6 52,747,095 938 1.8
13-15 6,391,912 250 3.9 6,127,522 140 2.3 12,519,434 391 3.1
16-19 8,624,878 1,538 17.8 8,234,283 786 9.5 16,859,161 2,324 13.8
20-24 11,667,854 3,095 26.5 11,071,459 1,109 10.0 22,739,313 4,205 18.5
25-29 11,409,399 2,702 23.7 11,052,155 824 7.5 22,461,554 3,527 15.7
30-34 10,889,739 1,991 18.3 10,785,909 762 7.1 21,675,648 2,754 12.7
35-39 10,173,424 1,789 17.6 10,201,161 625 6.1 20,374,585 2,414 11.8
40-44 10,030,153 1,654 16.5 10,185,045 583 5.7 20,215,198 2,238 11.1
45-49 10,334,929 1,722 16.7 10,518,915 634 6.0 20,853,844 2,356 11.3
50-54 10,963,847 2,119 19.3 11,370,470 780 6.9 22,334,317 2,900 13.0
55-59 10,597,567 1,960 18.5 11,210,375 677 6.0 21,807,942 2,638 12.1
60-64 9,117,180 1,592 17.5 9,952,697 555 5.6 19,069,877 2,149 11.3
65-69 7,596,190 1,252 16.5 8,471,278 546 6.4 16,067,468 1,799 11.2
70-74 5,296,158 867 16.4 6,186,891 449 7.3 11,483,049 1,316 11.5
75-79 3,610,906 655 18.1 4,512,927 414 9.2 8,123,833 1,069 13.2
80-84 2,412,665 537 22.3 3,386,676 378 11.2 5,799,341 916 15.8
85+ 2,174,298 594 27.3 4,112,863 471 11.5 6,287,161 1,065 16.9
Total* 158,229,297 24,899 15.7 163,189,523 10,166 6.2 321,418,820 35,092 10.9

From 1981 to 2015, the rate of deaths per 100,000 people declined by 71 percent for people 12 and younger (from 6.2 to 1.8), 69 percent for teenagers (from 30.0 to 9.2), 52 percent for people ages 20-34 (from 32.8 to 15.7), 33 percent for people ages 35-69 (from 17.5 to 11.7), and 38 percent for people 70 and older (from 25.9 to 13.6). 

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age group, 1981-2015
Year <13 years 13-19 years 20-34 years 35-69 years 70+ years
PopulationNumberRatePopulationNumberRatePopulationNumberRatePopulationNumberRatePopulationNumberRate
1975 45,851,304 3,643 7.9 29,795,023 8,74829.4 50,998,09815,07429.6 74,764,82913,08017.5 14,563,945 3,77525.9
1976 45,000,704 3,424 7.6 29,909,414 9,35631.3 52,745,00515,51729.4 75,419,92113,13717.4 14,960,120 3,89626.0
1977 44,337,332 3,347 7.5 29,800,313 9,63332.3 54,497,44817,28731.7 76,203,08313,46017.7 15,401,249 3,85925.1
1978 43,907,467 3,367 7.7 29,543,252 9,94033.6 55,909,06318,88633.8 77,348,22214,02018.1 15,876,541 3,82424.1
1979 43,778,959 3,171 7.2 29,077,607 9,92034.1 57,499,19719,67534.2 78,311,10714,23218.2 16,388,617 3,77223.0
1980 43,914,342 3,048 6.9 28,486,487 9,52433.4 58,814,39120,11034.2 79,111,52214,21918.0 16,897,977 3,86122.8
1981 44,049,940 2,733 6.2 27,743,947 8,31530.0 60,563,41619,88732.8 79,785,59113,95017.5 17,322,714 3,87122.3
1982 44,131,596 2,573 5.8 27,160,586 7,32327.0 61,099,52417,46528.6 81,488,90212,68515.6 17,783,888 3,65520.6
1983 44,119,297 2,518 5.7 26,737,497 6,80525.5 61,840,15416,85327.3 82,861,20412,48815.1 18,233,751 3,73420.5
1984 43,978,044 2,422 5.5 26,435,885 6,95226.3 62,491,25517,57928.1 84,256,66113,00615.4 18,662,938 4,05221.7
1985 44,260,136 2,469 5.6 26,001,247 6,73725.9 62,961,15417,03127.1 85,628,41013,12615.3 19,072,785 4,20622.1
1986 44,755,454 2,537 5.7 25,592,481 7,46629.2 63,115,88918,13228.7 87,205,53713,26315.2 19,463,480 4,44522.8
1987 45,348,247 2,654 5.9 25,209,615 7,29328.9 63,032,29817,67628.0 88,808,04614,07415.8 19,890,817 4,55522.9
1988 45,942,966 2,701 5.9 25,004,445 7,24229.0 62,784,73917,61328.1 90,464,40614,45816.0 20,302,280 4,92524.3
1989 46,690,604 2,658 5.7 24,664,300 6,68827.1 62,494,05616,51226.4 92,250,76214,65115.9 20,719,397 4,94323.9
1990 47,472,527 2,332 4.9 24,404,795 6,36426.1 62,282,68316,36626.3 94,140,10814,56815.5 21,164,283 4,84422.9
1991 48,240,747 2,257 4.7 24,066,587 5,76023.9 62,025,75014,94924.1 96,068,11113,58714.1 21,751,897 4,84322.3
1992 48,903,668 2,165 4.4 24,163,175 5,21521.6 61,427,10013,44521.9 98,214,53913,41413.7 22,321,217 4,90122.0
1993 49,335,864 2,164 4.4 24,664,091 5,42122.0 60,582,33213,45622.2 100,399,64813,74813.7 22,800,673 5,22122.9
1994 49,692,462 2,301 4.6 25,219,838 5,63222.3 59,629,35113,02021.8 102,541,52514,25113.9 23,243,845 5,42523.3
1995 49,920,484 2,201 4.4 25,764,300 5,67522.0 58,712,40713,33022.7 104,712,32815,01814.3 23,693,757 5,50923.3
1996 50,085,188 2,186 4.4 26,357,198 5,81922.1 57,753,91012,86922.3 106,975,95315,49614.5 24,056,323 5,57823.2
1997 50,364,983 2,108 4.2 26,730,812 5,73021.4 57,046,56912,33421.6 109,232,42615,86014.5 24,408,817 5,87224.1
1998 50,527,476 2,032 4.0 27,174,728 5,61020.6 56,421,05311,78520.9 111,331,19516,18514.5 24,793,551 5,79823.4
1999 50,667,139 1,997 3.9 27,518,156 5,75220.9 55,961,40111,84021.2 113,451,31216,38414.4 25,092,805 5,65722.5
2000 52,219,423 1,888 3.6 28,326,412 5,68520.1 58,971,70912,17420.6 117,114,73916,70014.3 25,559,879 5,37921.0
2001 52,341,395 1,751 3.3 28,437,711 5,59419.7 59,465,06612,37520.8 119,060,43616,93414.2 25,797,467 5,42521.0
2002 52,332,306 1,617 3.1 28,644,313 5,95420.8 60,046,06812,60921.0 120,913,20717,37414.4 26,005,326 5,33220.5
2003 52,187,602 1,643 3.1 29,028,500 5,71819.7 60,599,35012,36520.4 122,772,57817,70514.4 26,200,946 5,36320.5
2004 52,151,406 1,645 3.2 29,400,392 5,64519.2 61,003,24012,62020.7 124,762,84817,70714.2 26,337,518 5,10619.4
2005 52,149,395 1,529 2.9 29,589,854 5,30017.9 61,180,77213,02321.3 126,831,71418,49114.6 26,658,669 5,04718.9
2006 52,306,908 1,430 2.7 29,772,198 5,15917.3 61,527,21913,14221.4 128,907,36118,23314.1 26,884,798 4,63617.2
2007 52,585,809 1,269 2.4 29,775,943 4,98116.7 61,623,32212,53120.3 130,500,56617,72513.6 27,135,517 4,63117.1
2008 52,929,779 1,047 2.0 29,710,307 4,07013.7 61,990,54611,40618.4 131,908,05816,53812.5 27,521,034 4,29115.6
2009 53,753,412 1,066 2.0 29,667,279 3,48011.7 63,105,881 9,94015.8 132,693,70815,34011.6 27,786,270 3,99514.4
2010 52,943,218 962 1.8 30,324,338 3,12110.3 62,649,947 9,68415.5 134,995,31415,01511.1 27,832,721 4,17115.0
2011 52,950,108 908 1.7 29,895,041 3,03310.1 63,944,330 9,63315.1 136,282,08514,78210.8 28,520,353 4,07114.3
2012 52,872,572 958 1.8 29,632,228 2,837 9.6 64,892,52410,21015.7 137,348,71315,61411.4 29,168,003 4,11314.1
2013 52,723,720 940 1.8 29,524,367 2,543 8.6 65,640,025 9,90815.1 138,145,37015,29811.1 30,095,357 4,15013.8
2014 52,666,129 875 1.7 29,469,473 2,630 8.9 66,428,678 9,87914.9 139,374,83115,07310.8 30,917,945 4,20613.6
2015 52,747,095 938 1.8 29,378,595 2,715 9.2 66,876,51510,48615.7 140,723,23116,49411.7 31,693,384 4,36613.8

Safety belt use

According to a national daytime observational survey of motorists, safety belt use among front seat occupants was 88.5 percent in 2015. Pickrell, T.M. and Liu, C. 2015. Seat belt use in 2014 - overall results. Report no. DOT HS-812-113. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unrestrained vehicle occupants are more likely than restrained occupants to be fatally injured in a crash, so belt use is much lower among fatally injured occupants. Among fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants age 13 and older in 2015, 48 percent of drivers and 43 percent of passengers were belted. The rates of belt use among fatally injured drivers and passengers in 2015 represent 45 percent and 48 percent increases, respectively, compared with 1995 when only 33 percent of fatally injured drivers and 29 percent of fatally injured passengers were belted.

Safety belt use among fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants 13 and older by seating position, 1995-2015
YearDriver Passenger
Belt usedUnbelted Unknown Belt usedUnbelted Unknown
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
1995 6,974 33 12,692 59 1,772 8 2,642 29 5,577 62 791 9
1996 7,368 34 12,331 57 1,919 9 2,750 30 5,706 62 807 9
1997 7,561 35 12,288 57 1,847 9 2,867 31 5,497 60 810 9
1998 7,797 36 12,033 56 1,786 8 2,814 32 5,169 59 725 8
1999 7,834 36 12,252 56 1,793 8 2,748 32 5,249 60 700 8
2000 8,199 38 11,841 54 1,754 8 2,957 33 5,212 58 744 8
2001 8,509 39 11,638 53 1,700 8 2,844 32 5,178 59 737 8
2002 8,786 39 12,028 53 1,705 8 3,151 35 5,093 57 687 8
2003 9,239 42 11,274 51 1,666 8 3,127 36 4,851 55 773 9
2004 9,456 43 11,027 50 1,450 7 3,132 37 4,768 56 622 7
2005 9,315 42 11,133 51 1,489 7 3,122 38 4,551 55 634 8
2006 9,162 42 10,874 50 1,532 7 2,964 38 4,250 54 678 9
2007 8,915 43 10,070 49 1,537 7 2,902 38 4,007 53 681 9
2008 7,794 43 9,160 50 1,301 7 2,536 39 3,495 54 473 7
2009 7,421 44 8,199 49 1,207 7 2,366 40 3,031 52 449 8
2010 7,307 46 7,497 47 1,215 8 2,285 41 2,872 51 457 8
2011 7,047 45 7,356 47 1,147 7 2,055 40 2,650 52 432 8
2012 7,234 45 7,505 47 1,166 7 2,158 41 2,665 50 461 9
2013 7,324 47 6,988 45 1,261 8 2,166 43 2,439 48 471 9
2014 7,410 48 6,906 45 1,170 8 2,182 44 2,309 46 477 10
2015 7,934 48 7,221 44 1,317 8 2,312 43 2,452 46 560 11

Speeding

In 2015, speeding was a factor in 27 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. Speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2005. Speeding was defined to include crashes in which the driver was issued a traffic citation for speeding or in which driver-related factors included driving too fast for conditions, racing or exceeding the posted speed limit.

Motor vehicle crash deaths involving speeding as a contributing factor, 2006-2015
Speeding-related Not speeding-relatedTotal
Number%Number%Number
2006 13,609 32 29,099 68 42,708
2007 13,140 32 28,119 68 41,259
2008 11,767 31 25,656 69 37,423
2009 10,664 31 23,219 69 33,883
2010 10,508 32 22,491 68 32,999
2011 10,001 31 22,478 69 32,479
2012 10,329 31 23,453 69 33,782
2013 9,696 29 23,198 71 32,894
2014 9,283 28 23,461 72 32,744
2015 9,557 27 25,535 73 35,092

In 2015, the percentage of crash deaths involving speeding was higher on minor roads (32 percent) than on interstates and freeways (30 percent) or on other major roads (24 percent).

Crash deaths involving speeding as a contributing factor by road type, 2015
Speeding-related Not speeding-relatedTotal
Number%Number%Number
Interstates and freeways 1,291 30 3,051 70 4,342
Other major roads 4,001 24 12,783 76 16,784
Minor roads 3,252 32 6,812 68 10,064
All road types* 9,557 27 25,535 73 35,092

Of the 9,557 speeding-related fatalities that occurred in 2015, about half (52 percent) occurred on roads with speed limits lower than 55 mph. 

Motor vehicle crash deaths involving speeding as a contributing factor by speed limit, 2015
Speeding-related Not speeding-relatedTotal
Number%Number%Number%
≤35 mph 2,344 25 4,731 19 7,075 20
40-50 mph 2,538 27 6,796 27 9,334 27
55+ mph 4,623 48 13,716 54 18,339 52
Total* 9,557 100 25,535 100 35,092 100

When they died

In 2015, February had the fewest crash deaths and August had the most.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by month, 2015
MonthDeaths%
January 2,573 7
February 2,153 6
March 2,609 7
April 2,642 8
May 3,113 9
June 3,010 9
July 3,266 9
August 3,319 9
September 3,123 9
October 3,271 9
November 2,954 8
December 3,059 9
Total 35,092 100

In 2015, about half (49 percent) of crash deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by day of week, 2015
Day of weekDeaths%
Sunday 5,787 16
Monday 4,328 12
Tuesday 4,255 12
Wednesday 4,483 13
Thursday 4,783 14
Friday 5,263 15
Saturday 6,193 18
Total 35,092 100

In 2015, 33 percent of crash deaths occurred between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by time of day, 2015
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 4,013 11
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 2,909 8
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 3,494 10
9 a.m. - noon 3,379 10
Noon - 3 p.m. 4,457 13
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 5,595 16
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 5,912 17
9 p.m. - midnight 5,070 14
Total* 35,092 100
During 2011-2015, two of the five days with the highest number of traffic fatalities were holidays (Independence Day and New Year’s Day). 
Days of year with most motor vehicle crash deaths, 2011-2015
DateTotal deaths, 2011-2015Yearly average
July 4 612 122
August 2 595 119
November 1 577 115
October 11 571 114
January 1 567 113

References