Crashes took 32,675 lives in the U.S. in 2014.
A total of 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2013. 2012 motor vehicle crashes: overview. Report no. DOT HS-811-856. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent estimate of the annual economic cost of crashes was $277 billion dollars.
Blincoe, L.J.; Miller, T.R.; Zaloshnja, E. and Lawrence, B.A. 2014. The economic and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes, 2010. 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).
A total of 33,561 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. These deaths occurred in 30,800 crashes involving 45,637 motor vehicles. This was the first annual increase in deaths, fatal crashes and motor vehicles involved in fatal crashes since 2005.
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 about half. During the 38 years in which national fatal crash data have been collected, the death rate per 100,000 population for passenger vehicle occupants in 2012 was at an all-time low for the second consecutive year.
Sixty-five percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2012 were passenger vehicle occupants, 14 percent were pedestrians, 14 percent were motorcyclists, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large trucks.
The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled increased slightly from an all-time low of 1.1 in 2011 to 1.13 in 2012. In contrast, the rate was 3.35 in 1975.
Federal Highway Administration. 2013. Highway statistics, 2011. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
At all ages, males had higher per capita crash death rates than females in 2012. Males ages 20-24 and 85 and older had the highest rates of crash deaths.
From 1975 to 2012, the rate of deaths per 100,000 people declined by 77 percent for people 12 and younger (from 7.9 to 1.8), 68 percent for teenagers (from 29.4 to 9.5), 47 percent for people ages 20-34 (from 29.6 to 15.6), 35 percent for people ages 35-69 (from 17.5 to 11.3), and 46 percent for people 70 and older (from 25.9 to 14.0).
According to a national daytime observational survey of motorists, safety belt use was 86 percent among front seat occupants in 2012.
Pickrell, T.M. and Ye, J.Y. 2013. Seat belt use in 2012 - overall results. Report no. DOT HS-811-691. 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 13 and older in 2012, 45 percent of drivers and 41 percent of passengers were belted.
In 2012, speeding was a factor in 30 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. Speeding has been a factor in about one-third of crash deaths since 2003. Speeding was defined to include crashes in which the driver was issued a traffic citation for speeding or in which driver-related factors coded indicated speed as a factor (driving too fast for conditions, racing or exceeding the posted speed limit).
In 2012, 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 (27 percent).
In 2012, the month of February had the lowest number of crash deaths.
In 2012, 50 percent of crash deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
In 2012, crash deaths occurred most often between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. (32 percent).
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
Subscribe to news updates
Watch our channel
Mobile ratings & news