Yearly snapshot | 2007

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).

Trends

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.

Number of deaths, crashes, and motor vehicles in fatal crashes, 1975-2007
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
200543,51039,25259,495
200642,70838,64858,094
200741,05937,24855,926

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

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by type, 1975-2007
YearPopulationPassenger vehicle occupantsPedestriansMotorcyclistsBicyclistsLarge truck occupantsAll 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
1996265,228,57232,35312.25,4492.12,0770.87610.36020.242,06515.9
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
2005296,410,40431,45510.64,8921.74,4601.57840.37580.343,51014.7
2006299,398,48430,62810.24,7951.64,6991.67690.37740.342,70814.3
2007301,621,15728,8969.64,6541.55,0371.76960.27430.241,05913.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by type, 1975-2007
YearPassenger vehicle occupantsPedestriansMotorcyclistsBicyclistsLarge truck occupantsOtherAll 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
199632,353775,449132,077576126021823242,065
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
200531,455724,892114,46010784275821,161343,510
200630,628724,795114,69911769277421,043242,708
200728,896704,654115,03712696274321,033341,059

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

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled, 1975-2007
YearDeathsMiles travelled (millions)Rate
197544,5251,330,0743.35
197645,5231,409,1633.23
197747,8781,476,5673.24
197850,3311,548,2133.25
197951,0931,529,1333.34
198051,0911,520,8573.36
198149,3011,550,2713.18
198243,9451,592,4812.76
198342,5891,649,1062.58
198444,2571,716,7682.58
198543,8251,774,7622.47
198646,0871,838,2402.51
198746,3901,924,3272.41
198847,0872,025,5862.32
198945,5822,107,0402.16
199044,5992,147,5012.08
199141,5082,172,2141.91
199239,2502,239,8281.75
199340,1502,296,5851.75
199440,7162,357,5881.73
199541,8172,422,7751.73
199642,0652,482,2021.69
199742,0132,560,3731.64
199841,5012,625,3671.58
199941,7172,691,3351.55
200041,9452,749,8031.53
200142,1962,781,4621.52
200243,0052,855,7561.51
200342,8842,890,8931.48
200442,8362,962,5131.45
200543,5102,989,8071.46
200642,7083,014,1161.42
200741,0592,996,2321.37

Age and gender

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.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2007
AgeMaleFemaleTotal*
PopulationDeathsratePopulationDeathsratePopulationDeathsrate
<1326,897,7146842.525,688,0955802.352,585,8091,2642.4
13-156,435,7934557.16,131,3433034.912,567,1367586.0
16-198,824,7242,80331.88,384,0831,38416.517,208,8074,18824.3
20-2410,852,9374,38040.410,179,4591,29912.821,032,3965,68027.0
25-2910,776,1893,00027.810,281,5179319.121,057,7063,93218.7
30-349,906,3612,17822.09,626,8596867.119,533,2202,86414.7
35-3910,654,9112,27821.410,521,5497447.121,176,4603,02214.3
40-4410,963,8232,20820.111,021,0068527.721,984,8293,06013.9
45-4911,302,8422,37921.011,558,5318827.622,861,3733,26114.3
50-5410,292,0712,09520.410,721,3167747.221,013,3872,86913.7
55-598,847,2221,72119.59,389,0376637.118,236,2592,38413.1
60-646,927,8661,17817.07,547,9515397.114,475,8171,71711.9
65-695,019,06388017.55,733,3784547.910,752,4411,33412.4
70-743,867,91079320.54,731,79847510.08,599,7081,26814.7
75-793,106,96874524.04,217,91450211.97,324,8821,24717.0
80-842,205,70561327.83,492,92445813.15,698,6291,07118.8
≥ 851,776,79955431.23,735,49945812.35,512,2981,01218.4
Total*148,658,89829,03919.5152,962,25912,0117.9301,621,15741,05913.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Speeding

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).

Motor vehicle crash deaths involving speeding as a contributing factor, 1998-2007
 Speeding-relatedNot speeding-relatedTotal
Num%Num%Num
199812,5613028,9407041,501
199912,7133029,0047041,717
200012,5523029,3937041,945
200112,9243129,2726942,196
200213,7993229,2066843,005
200313,4993129,3856942,884
200413,2913129,5456942,836
200513,5833129,9276943,510
200613,6093229,0996842,708
200713,0403228,0196841,059

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).

Crash deaths involving speeding as a contributing factor by road type, 2007
 Speeding-relatedNot speeding-relatedTotal
Num%Num%Num
Interstates and freeways1,591303,675705,266
Other major roads6,5572916,1687122,725
Minor roads4,119386,5876210,706
All road types*13,0403228,0196841,059
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

When they died

Warmer weather months have higher numbers of crash deaths.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by month, 2007
MonthDeaths%
January3,0287
February2,8767
March3,4248
April3,3518
May3,6319
June3,6089
July3,8009
August3,6539
September3,5629
October3,5699
November3,3228
December3,2358
Total41,059100

Fifty-two percent of crash deaths occur on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.

Motor vehicle crash deaths by day of week, 2007
Day of weekDeaths%
Sunday6,90817
Monday5,25113
Tuesday4,69911
Wednesday5,08212
Thursday5,05612
Friday6,39316
Saturday7,67019
Total41,059100

Deaths occur most often between 3pm and 9pm (31 percent), followed by 9pm to 3am (27 percent).

Motor vehicle crash deaths by time of day, 2007
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight-3am5,41713
3am-6am3,4868
6am-9am3,8829
9am-noon3,8399
Noon-3pm5,29113
3pm-6pm6,59016
6pm-9pm6,32915
9pm-midnight5,86814
Total*41,059100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References