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
Year Deaths Crashes Motor 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 63,484
1981 49,301 44,000 62,698
1982 43,945 39,092 56,449
1983 42,589 37,976 55,103
1984 44,257 39,631 57,970
1985 43,825 39,196 58,271
1986 46,087 41,090 60,792
1987 46,390 41,438 61,836
1988 47,087 42,130 62,702
1989 45,582 40,741 60,870
1990 44,599 39,836 59,292
1991 41,508 36,937 54,794
1992 39,250 34,942 52,227
1993 40,150 35,780 53,777
1994 40,716 36,254 54,906
1995 41,817 37,241 56,524
1996 42,065 37,494 57,347
1997 42,013 37,324 57,037
1998 41,501 37,107 56,920
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 43,443 39,189 59,373

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
Year Population Passenger vehicle occupant deaths Pedestrian deaths Motorcyclist deaths Bicyclist deaths Large truck occupant deaths All motor vehicle deaths*
Num Rate Num Rate Num Rate Num Rate Num Rate Num Rate
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 34,995 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 29,654 12.8 7,331 3.2 4,267 1.8 864 0.4 917 0.4 43,945 19.0
1983 233,791,903 29,153 12.5 6,826 2.9 4,099 1.8 830 0.4 960 0.4 42,589 18.2
1984 235,824,783 30,091 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 29,847 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 30,816 11.8 5,489 2.1 2,215 0.9 796 0.3 658 0.3 40,716 15.6
1995 262,803,276 31,913 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 32,331 12.1 5,321 2.0 2,056 0.8 811 0.3 717 0.3 42,013 15.7
1998 270,248,003 31,779 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 31,322 10.6 4,881 1.6 4,439 1.5 782 0.3 759 0.3 43,443 14.7
*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
Year Passenger vehicle occupant deaths Pedestrian deaths Motorcyclist deaths Bicyclist deaths Large truck occupant deaths Other motor vehicle deaths All motor vehicle deaths
Num % Num % Num % Num % Num % Num % Num
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 34,995 68 8,070 16 4,955 10 965 2 1,183 2 923 2 51,091
1981 33,711 68 7,837 16 4,737 10 936 2 1,082 2 998 2 49,301
1982 29,654 67 7,331 17 4,267 10 864 2 917 2 912 2 43,945
1983 29,153 68 6,826 16 4,099 10 830 2 960 2 721 2 42,589
1984 30,091 68 7,025 16 4,425 10 838 2 1,040 2 838 2 44,257
1985 29,847 68 6,808 16 4,415 10 869 2 941 2 945 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 30,816 76 5,489 13 2,215 5 796 2 658 2 742 2 40,716
1995 31,913 76 5,584 13 2,138 5 828 2 634 2 720 2 41,817
1996 32,354 77 5,449 13 2,077 5 761 2 602 1 822 2 42,065
1997 32,331 77 5,321 13 2,056 5 811 2 717 2 777 2 42,013
1998 31,779 77 5,228 13 2,227 5 757 2 739 2 771 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 31,322 72 4,881 11 4,439 10 782 2 759 2 1,260 3 43,443

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
Age Male Female Total*
Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate
<13 26,679,527 835 3.1 25,469,868 683 2.7 52,149,395 1,519 2.9
13-15 6,625,942 499 7.5 6,311,379 329 5.2 12,937,321 829 6.4
16-19 8,541,332 2,992 35.0 8,111,201 1,467 18.1 16,652,533 4,459 26.8
20-24 10,856,936 4,498 41.4 10,180,924 1,364 13.4 21,037,860 5,862 27.9
25-29 10,268,169 2,964 28.9 9,797,533 888 9.1 20,065,702 3,852 19.2
30-34 10,153,091 2,402 23.7 9,924,119 830 8.4 20,077,210 3,232 16.1
35-39 10,563,375 2,274 21.5 10,438,579 853 8.2 21,001,954 3,127 14.9
40-44 11,376,664 2,473 21.7 11,483,846 970 8.4 22,860,510 3,443 15.1
45-49 11,106,575 2,361 21.3 11,377,948 934 8.2 22,484,523 3,295 14.7
50-54 9,788,780 2,101 21.5 10,208,962 771 7.6 19,997,742 2,872 14.4
55-59 8,425,070 1,643 19.5 8,928,608 728 8.2 17,353,678 2,371 13.7
60-64 6,201,648 1,211 19.5 6,800,215 602 8.9 13,001,863 1,813 13.9
65-69 4,721,791 944 20.0 5,409,653 536 9.9 10,131,444 1,480 14.6
70-74 3,807,605 827 21.7 4,700,764 509 10.8 8,508,369 1,336 15.7
75-79 3,117,774 818 26.2 4,294,039 591 13.8 7,411,813 1,410 19.0
80-84 2,161,671 684 31.6 3,480,878 535 15.4 5,642,549 1,219 21.6
≥ 85 1,603,796 599 37.3 3,492,142 468 13.4 5,095,938 1,067 20.9
Total* 145,999,746 30,224 20.7 150,410,658 13,089 8.7 296,410,404 43,443 14.7
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References