Yearly snapshot | 2005

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among Americans 5-33 years old. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2003. WISQARS leading cause of death reports, 1999-2003. Atlanta, GA. Available: http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html. According to the US Department of Transportation, the total societal cost of these crashes exceeds $200 billion annually. Blincoe, L.J.; Seay, A.G.; Zaloshnja, E.; Miller, T.R.; Romano, E.O.; Luchter, S.; and Spicer R.S. 2002. The economic impact of motor vehicle crashes 2000. Report no. DOT HS-809-446. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation. Contributing to the death toll are alcohol, speed, lack of seat belt use, and other problematic driver behaviors. Death rates vary widely 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).

Data subsections:

Trends

A total of 43,443 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2005. This is 2 percent fewer than in 1975 but 11 percent more than the lowest point in 1992. These deaths occurred in 39,189 crashes involving 59,373 motor vehicles. Since 1992 the Numberber of fatalities has fluctuated within a fairly narrow range, from about 39,000 to more than 43,000, but deaths in 2005 are the highest since 1990.

Numberber of deaths, crashes, and motor vehicles, 1975-2000
YearDeathsCrashesMotor vehicles
197544,52539,16155,534
197645,52339,74756,084
197747,87842,21160,516
197850,33144,43364,144
197951,09345,22364,762
198051,09145,28463,484
198149,30144,00062,698
198243,94539,09256,449
198342,58937,97655,103
198444,25739,63157,970
198543,82539,19658,271
198646,08741,09060,792
198746,39041,43861,836
198847,08742,13062,702
198945,58240,74160,870
199044,59939,83659,292
199141,50836,93754,794
199239,25034,94252,227
199340,15035,78053,777
199440,71636,25454,906
199541,81737,24156,524
199642,06537,49457,347
199742,01337,32457,037
199841,50137,10756,920
199941,71737,14056,820
200041,94537,52657,594
200142,19637,86257,918
200243,00538,49158,426
200342,88438,47758,877
200442,83638,44458,729
200543,44339,18959,373

Although the US population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people has declined by 29 percent. During the past decade, the death rate increased for motorcyclists but decreased for occupants of passenger vehicles (cars, pickups, SUVs, and vans) and pedestrians.

Motor vehicle crash deaths and deaths per 100,000 people, 1975-2005

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by type, 1975-2005
YearPopulationPassenger vehicle occupant deathsPedestrian deathsMotorcyclist deathsBicyclist deathsLarge truck occupant deathsAll motor vehicle deaths*
NumRateNumRateNumRateNumRateNumRateNumRate
1975215,973,19930,60114.27,5163.53,1061.41,0030.59160.444,52520.6
1976218,035,16431,72414.57,4273.43,2321.59140.41,1000.545,52320.9
1977220,239,42532,82314.97,7323.54,0041.89220.41,2290.647,87821.7
1978222,584,54534,92315.77,7953.54,4482.08920.41,3150.650,33122.6
1979225,055,48735,02615.68,0963.64,7122.19320.41,3720.651,09322.7
1980227,224,71934,99515.48,0703.64,9552.29650.41,1830.551,09122.5
1981229,465,60833,71114.77,8373.44,7372.19360.41,0820.549,30121.5
1982231,664,49629,65412.87,3313.24,2671.88640.49170.443,94519.0
1983233,791,90329,15312.56,8262.94,0991.88300.49600.442,58918.2
1984235,824,78330,09112.87,0253.04,4251.98380.41,0400.444,25718.8
1985237,923,73229,84712.56,8082.94,4151.98690.49410.443,82518.4
1986240,132,84132,22413.46,7792.84,3091.89290.48920.446,08719.2
1987242,289,02333,14513.76,7452.83,8321.69400.48210.346,39019.1
1988244,498,83634,10513.96,8702.83,4911.49010.48860.447,08719.3
1989246,819,11933,59913.66,5562.73,0301.28220.38220.345,58218.5
1990249,464,39632,71113.16,4822.63,1281.38530.36840.344,59917.9
1991252,153,09230,81012.25,8012.32,7021.18360.36500.341,50816.5
1992255,029,69929,45711.65,5492.22,2910.97170.35800.239,25015.4
1993257,782,60829,99411.65,6492.22,3460.98060.35900.240,15015.6
1994260,327,02130,81611.85,4892.12,2150.97960.36580.340,71615.6
1995262,803,27631,91312.15,5842.12,1380.88280.36340.241,81715.9
1996265,228,57232,35412.25,4492.12,0770.87610.36020.242,06515.9
1997267,783,60732,33112.15,3212.02,0560.88110.37170.342,01315.7
1998270,248,00331,77911.85,2281.92,2270.87570.37390.341,50115.4
1999272,690,81332,00811.74,9391.82,4190.97500.37470.341,71715.3
2000282,192,16232,10911.44,7631.72,8291.06890.27370.341,94514.9
2001285,102,07531,93811.24,9011.73,1231.17290.36910.242,19614.8
2002287,941,22032,72411.44,8511.73,1871.16630.26750.243,00514.9
2003290,788,97632,16611.14,7741.63,6411.36260.27030.242,88414.7
2004293,655,40431,75010.84,6751.63,9041.37220.27430.342,83614.6
2005296,410,40431,32210.64,8811.64,4391.57820.37590.343,44314.7
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Seventy-two percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2005 were passenger vehicle occupants, 11 percent were pedestrians, 10 percent were motorcyclists, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large trucks.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by type, 1975-2005
YearPassenger vehicle occupant deathsPedestrian deathsMotorcyclist deathsBicyclist deathsLarge truck occupant deathsOther motor vehicle deathsAll motor vehicle deaths
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num
197530,601697,516173,10671,003291621,383344,525
197631,724707,427163,232791421,10021,126245,523
197732,823697,732164,004892221,22931,168247,878
197834,923697,795154,448989221,3153958250,331
197935,026698,096164,712993221,3723955251,093
198034,995688,070164,9551096521,1832923251,091
198133,711687,837164,7371093621,0822998249,301
198229,654677,331174,2671086429172912243,945
198329,153686,826164,0991083029602721242,589
198430,091687,025164,4251083821,0402838244,257
198529,847686,808164,4151086929412945243,825
198632,224706,779154,309992928922954246,087
198733,145716,745153,832894028212907246,390
198834,105726,870153,491790128862834247,087
198933,599746,556143,030782228222753245,582
199032,711736,482153,128785326842741244,599
199130,810745,801142,702783626502709241,508
199229,457755,549142,291671725801656239,250
199329,994755,649142,346680625901765240,150
199430,816765,489132,215579626582742240,716
199531,913765,584132,138582826342720241,817
199632,354775,449132,077576126021822242,065
199732,331775,321132,056581127172777242,013
199831,779775,228132,227575727392771241,501
199932,008774,939122,419675027472854241,717
200032,109774,763112,829768927372818241,945
200131,938764,901123,123772926912814242,196
200232,724764,851113,187766326752905243,005
200332,166754,774113,641862617032974242,884
200431,750744,675113,9049722274321,042242,836
200531,322724,881114,43910782275921,260343,443

Age and gender

The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2005 was especially high among 16-24 year-olds. At all ages males had much higher death rates than females. Males ages 20-24 had the highest rate of motor vehicle crash deaths.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2005
AgeMaleFemaleTotal*
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRate
<1326,679,5278353.125,469,8686832.752,149,3951,5192.9
13-156,625,9424997.56,311,3793295.212,937,3218296.4
16-198,541,3322,99235.08,111,2011,46718.116,652,5334,45926.8
20-2410,856,9364,49841.410,180,9241,36413.421,037,8605,86227.9
25-2910,268,1692,96428.99,797,5338889.120,065,7023,85219.2
30-3410,153,0912,40223.79,924,1198308.420,077,2103,23216.1
35-3910,563,3752,27421.510,438,5798538.221,001,9543,12714.9
40-4411,376,6642,47321.711,483,8469708.422,860,5103,44315.1
45-4911,106,5752,36121.311,377,9489348.222,484,5233,29514.7
50-549,788,7802,10121.510,208,9627717.619,997,7422,87214.4
55-598,425,0701,64319.58,928,6087288.217,353,6782,37113.7
60-646,201,6481,21119.56,800,2156028.913,001,8631,81313.9
65-694,721,79194420.05,409,6535369.910,131,4441,48014.6
70-743,807,60582721.74,700,76450910.88,508,3691,33615.7
75-793,117,77481826.24,294,03959113.87,411,8131,41019.0
80-842,161,67168431.63,480,87853515.45,642,5491,21921.6
≥ 851,603,79659937.33,492,14246813.45,095,9381,06720.9
Total*145,999,74630,22420.7150,410,65813,0898.7296,410,40443,44314.7
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References