Crashes took 32,367 lives in the U.S. in 2011.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2005. WISQARS leading cause of death reports, 1999-2005. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html.
among Americans 3-34 years old. According to the U.S. 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: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Contributing to the death toll are alcohol, speed, 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).
A total of 41,059 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2007. This is 8 percent fewer than in 1975 but 5 percent more than the lowest point in 1992. These deaths occurred in 37,248 crashes involving 55,926 motor vehicles. Since 1992, the number of fatalities has fluctuated within a fairly narrow range, from about 39,000 to over 43,000, but deaths in 2007 were the lowest in thirteen years.
Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 population has declined by 34 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, and was essentially unchanged for bicyclists and occupants of large trucks.
Motor vehicle crash deaths and deaths per 100,000 people, 1975-2007
Seventy percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2007 were passenger vehicle occupants, 11 percent were pedestrians, 12 percent were motorcyclists, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large trucks. More motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2007 than in any year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began collecting FARS data in 1975. In contrast, at 28,896, fewer passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes in 2007 than in any year in this time period.
In 2007, the rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled reached an all-time low of 1.37. This is compared to a rate of 3.35 in 1975.
Federal Highway Administration. 2007. Highway statistics, 2006. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
Motor vehicle crash deaths and deaths per 100 million miles traveled, 1975-2007
The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2007 was especially high among 16-24 year-olds. At all ages, males had higher death rates than females. Males ages 20-24 had the highest rate of motor vehicle crash deaths.
In 2007, speeding was a factor in 32 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. Speeding has been a factor in about one-third of crash deaths since 1998. Speeding was defined to include crashes in which the driver was cited for speeding or in which driver-related factors coded indicated speed as a factor (driving too fast for conditions or racing).
In 2007, the percentage of crash deaths involving speeding was higher on minor roads (38 percent) than on interstates and freeways (30 percent) or on other major roads (29 percent).
Warmer weather months have higher numbers of crash deaths.
Fifty-two percent of crash deaths occur on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
Deaths occur most often between 3pm and 9pm (31 percent), followed by 9pm to 3am (27 percent).
©1996-2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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