Crashes took 35,092 lives in the U.S. in 2015.
A total of 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent estimate of the annual economic cost of crashes was $242 billion dollars.
Blincoe, L.J.; Miller, T.R.; Zaloshnja, E. and Lawrence, B.A. 2015. The economic and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes, 2010 (revised). 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).
Posted November 2016.
A total of 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015. These deaths occurred in 32,166 crashes involving 48,923 motor vehicles. This was a 7 percent increase in deaths compared with 2014 and was the highest number of traffic deaths since 2008.
Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 population in 2015 is about half of what it was 40 years ago. However, the overall per capita death rate and the per capita death rate for passenger vehicle occupants in 2015 increased 6 percent from the rates in 2014.
Sixty-four percent of crash fatalities in 2015 were passenger vehicle occupants, 15 percent were pedestrians, 13 percent were motorcyclists, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were occupants of large trucks.
The rate of crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled increased from an all-time low of 1.08 in 2014 to 1.12 in 2015. This rate is three times lower than the all time high rate of 3.36 in 1980.
Federal Highway Administration. 2016. Highway statistics, 2014. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
At all ages, males had higher per capita crash death rates than females in 2015. Males ages 20-24 and 85 and older had the highest rates of crash deaths, and females ages 12 and younger had the lowest rate.
From 1981 to 2015, the rate of deaths per 100,000 people declined by 71 percent for people 12 and younger (from 6.2 to 1.8), 69 percent for teenagers (from 30.0 to 9.2), 52 percent for people ages 20-34 (from 32.8 to 15.7), 33 percent for people ages 35-69 (from 17.5 to 11.7), and 38 percent for people 70 and older (from 25.9 to 13.6).
According to a national daytime observational survey of motorists, safety belt use among front seat occupants was 88.5 percent in 2015.
Pickrell, T.M. and Liu, C. 2015. Seat belt use in 2014 - overall results. Report no. DOT HS-812-113. 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 age 13 and older in 2015, 48 percent of drivers and 43 percent of passengers were belted. The rates of belt use among fatally injured drivers and passengers in 2015 represent 45 percent and 48 percent increases, respectively, compared with 1995 when only 33 percent of fatally injured drivers and 29 percent of fatally injured passengers were belted.
In 2015, speeding was a factor in 27 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. Speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2005. Speeding was defined to include crashes in which the driver was issued a traffic citation for speeding or in which driver-related factors included driving too fast for conditions, racing or exceeding the posted speed limit.
In 2015, the percentage of crash deaths involving speeding was higher on minor roads (32 percent) than on interstates and freeways (30 percent) or on other major roads (24 percent).
Of the 9,557 speeding-related fatalities that occurred in 2015, about half (52 percent) occurred on roads with speed limits lower than 55 mph.
In 2015, February had the fewest crash deaths and August had the most.
In 2015, about half (49 percent) of crash deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
In 2015, 33 percent of crash deaths occurred between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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