Passenger vehicle occupants | 2006

By far the largest number of motor vehicle crash deaths are occupants of passenger vehicles including cars, minivans, pickups, SUVs, and cargo/large passenger vans. The likelihood of crash death varies markedly among these vehicle types according to size. Small/light vehicles have less structure and size to absorb crash energy, so more injurious forces can reach their occupants in crashes. People in lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage in collisions with heavier vehicles. Kahane, C.J. 2003. Vehicle weight, fatality risk and crash compatibility of model year 1991-99 passenger cars and light trucks. Report no. DOT HS-809-662. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation. Pickups and SUVs are proportionally more likely than cars to be in fatal single-vehicle crashes, especially rollovers. However, pickups and SUVs generally are heavier than cars, so occupant deaths in SUVs and pickups are less likely to occur in multiple-vehicle crashes.

Guide to car size groups Guide to SUV size groups Guide to pickup size groups
Curb weightShadow
(overall length x width in square feet)
  Curb weight  Curb weight
≤ 8081-9091-100101-110> 110 Small≤ 3,750 lbs Small≤ 4,000 lbs
≤ 2,500 lbsMiniSmallSmallSmallMidsize Midsize3,751-4,750 lbs Large> 4,000 lbs and carrying capacity = 1/2 ton
2,501-3,000 lbsSmallSmallMidsizeMidsizeMidsize Large4,751-5,750 lbs Very large> 4,000 lbs and carrying capacity > 1/2 ton
3,001-3,500 lbsSmallMidsizeMidsizeLargeLarge Very large> 5,750 lbs or shadow > 115 sq ft  
3,501-4,000 lbsSmallMidsizeLargeLargeVery large   
> 4,000 lbsMidsizeMidsizeLargeVery largeVery large  
Note: Passenger versions of vans often referred to as minivans are classified as cars.  

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and The Polk Company's National Vehicle Population Profile.

Trends

A total of 30,476 passenger vehicle occupants died in 2006, nearly the same as in 1975. However, the distribution of vehicle types among these crashes has changed. Car occupant deaths have declined 26 percent since 1975, while pickup occupant deaths have risen 62 percent and SUV occupant deaths are more than 10 times as high.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by vehicle type, 1975-2006

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by vehicle type, 1975-2006
YearCar occupantsPickup occupantsSUV occupantsAll passenger vehicle occupants
197525,7153,67445530,601
197626,1634,22557731,724
197726,6984,51272932,823
197827,8985,10385234,923
197927,5185,42394535,026
198027,2815,4891,12434,995
198126,4065,2361,02133,711
198223,1424,77986229,654
198322,8004,66092029,153
198423,4804,88488630,091
198523,0764,8921,02429,847
198624,8805,3341,13132,224
198725,1155,7951,26933,145
198825,8256,0891,32034,105
198925,2696,0161,37333,599
199024,4136,0321,48032,711
199122,7385,8581,52130,810
199221,8245,4761,39029,457
199322,1175,6111,55229,994
199422,6185,6041,80930,816
199523,1245,9732,00631,913
199623,4265,9282,21032,353
199723,1515,9222,41532,331
199822,3555,9042,71131,779
199922,1196,0953,01932,008
200021,9856,0013,33232,109
200121,6046,1473,49531,938
200222,0076,0933,98732,724
200321,0535,9034,39332,166
200420,5585,7954,69531,750
200519,8876,1104,78231,455
200618,9685,9494,81730,476

A total of 21,497 passenger vehicle drivers died in 2006, 2 percent less than in 2005 but 11 percent more than in 1975. Sixty-one percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths in 2006 were car drivers. However, the proportion of deaths involving pickup and SUV drivers is growing as the popularity of these vehicles increases.

Passenger vehicle driver deaths by vehicle type, 1975-2006
YearCar driversPickup driversSUV driversAll passenger vehicle drivers
Num%Num%Num%Num
197516,141832,48113270119,349
197616,385822,89014347220,091
197716,903813,07615434220,941
197818,047793,53516519222,758
197918,064783,73416596323,109
198017,847783,77616684322,990
198117,553783,68716623322,506
198215,234773,34517549319,663
198315,057783,21917575319,337
198415,785783,42217557320,298
198515,430773,44617645320,057
198616,503773,76418690321,503
198716,722754,08218765322,157
198817,183754,33219850422,884
198916,775744,36519877422,554
199016,200744,30720951421,953
199114,938734,25621943520,551
199214,337733,95820863419,573
199314,547734,10520977520,036
199414,913724,130201,140620,644
199515,323714,431211,248621,456
199615,379714,402201,399621,631
199715,308714,376201,537721,702
199815,035704,452211,686821,627
199914,809684,658211,986921,899
200014,719674,536212,0851021,819
200114,553674,653212,2531021,862
200214,897664,686212,5711122,537
200314,380654,567212,7841322,200
200414,038644,395203,0901421,952
200513,723634,685213,1331421,953
200613,197614,571213,2451521,497

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths represented 71 percent of the 42,642 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2006.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths vs. all motor vehicle crash deaths, 1975-2006
YearAll passenger vehicle occupant deathsOther deathsAll motor vehicle crash deaths
Num%Num%Num
197530,6016913,9243144,525
197631,7247013,7993045,523
197732,8236915,0553147,878
197834,9236915,4083150,331
197935,0266916,0673151,093
198034,9956816,0963251,091
198133,7116815,5903249,301
198229,6546714,2913343,945
198329,1536813,4363242,589
198430,0916814,1663244,257
198529,8476813,9783243,825
198632,2247013,8633046,087
198733,1457113,2452946,390
198834,1057212,9822847,087
198933,5997411,9832645,582
199032,7117311,8882744,599
199130,8107410,6982641,508
199229,457759,7932539,250
199329,9947510,1562540,150
199430,816769,9002440,716
199531,913769,9042441,817
199632,353779,7122342,065
199732,331779,6822342,013
199831,779779,7222341,501
199932,008779,7092341,717
200032,109779,8362341,945
200131,9387610,2582442,196
200232,7247610,2812443,005
200332,1667510,7182542,884
200431,7507411,0862642,836
200531,4557212,0552843,510
200630,4767112,1662942,642

Crash types

Frontal impacts accounted for 49 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2006. Side impacts accounted for another 29 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in single-vehicle crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2006
Point of principal impactCar occupantsPickup occupantsSUV occupantsAll occupants
Num%Num%Num%Num%
Frontal4,073501,708461,191387,18147
Side2,0322557416473153,13020
Rear26335515723772
Other (mostly rollover)1,822221,343361,410454,73131
All*8,1901003,6801003,13110015,419100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2006
Point of principal impactCar occupantsPickup occupantsSUV occupantsAll occupants
Num%Num%Num%Num%
Frontal5,337501,39962921557,85552
Side4,4724261227502305,66138
Rear6236149714499496
Other (mostly rollover)3223104511575584
All*10,7541002,2641001,68210015,023100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in all crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2006
Point of principal impactCar occupantsPickup occupantsSUV occupantsAll occupants
Num%Num%Num%Num%
Frontal9,424503,111522,1154415,05849
Side6,512341,18620976208,80029
Rear8875204320141,3274
Other (mostly rollover)2,145111,448241,525325,29117
All*18,9681005,9491004,81710030,476100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Forty-three percent of car occupant deaths in 2006 occurred in single-vehicle crashes and 57 percent occurred in multiple-vehicle crashes. In contrast, single-vehicle crashes accounted for 65 percent of SUV occupant deaths and 62 percent of pickup occupant deaths.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by vehicle and crash type, 2006
Vehicle typeDeaths in single-vehicle crashesDeaths in multiple-vehicle crashesDeaths in all crashes*
Num%Num%Num
Cars8,1904310,7545718,968
Pickups3,680622,264385,949
SUVs3,131651,682354,817
Other4185632344742
All passenger vehicles15,4195115,0234930,476
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender differences

Thirty-three percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2006 were younger than 25.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by age, 2006
AgeAll occupants
Num%
< 2510,05033
25-292,96710
30-342,1607
35-392,0197
40-442,0637
45-492,0047
50-541,7706
55-591,5195
60-641,2054
65-699993
≥ 703,64812
All *30,476100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Seventy-one percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2006 were drivers; 70 percent of these drivers were males.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by occupant age, type, and gender, 2006
AgeDriversAll occupants
MaleFemaleTotal*MaleFemaleTotal*
Num%Num%NumNum%Num%Num
< 16476624347176049778511,538
16-191,62270702302,3242,525661,305343,831
20-242,47676778243,2573,453741,225264,681
25-291,67375554252,2282,16573801272,967
30-341,21172460281,6711,50970651302,160
35-391,10369493311,5971,33166686342,019
40-441,12668529321,6551,33965724352,063
45-491,13770484301,6221,33066671332,004
50-5499070432301,4221,15065620351,770
55-5983868396321,23495363566371,519
60-64631663193495171059492411,205
65-6952769240317675976040240999
≥ 701,73365935352,6692,020551,627453,648
All*15,138706,3483021,49719,8936510,5613530,476
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Driver death rates

Computing driver death rates per million registered passenger vehicles allows for comparisons of fatal crash risk across vehicle groups. The computed rates reflect the influence of vehicle designs plus their patterns of use and the demographics of their drivers. Driver death rates are based on 1-3-year-old vehicles only so as to minimize the effects of vehicle aging. Rates based on fewer than 120,000 vehicle registrations are considered unreliable and are not included.

Since 1978, the overall rates of driver and occupant deaths per million registered vehicles have declined across all passenger vehicle types. Declines in death rates have been largest for SUV occupants.

Occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 1978-2006
YearDriversAll occupants
CarsPickupsSUVsAll passenger vehiclesCarsPickupsSUVsAll passenger vehicles
1978155237273169235346438256
1979165246271180244350425265
1980167221287177248316494263
1981177216237182259296389265
1982155188229159231263392236
1983148188225153220263337225
1984147190143151218259218222
1985139182141144208257227213
1986128172134133196239224202
1987130178136136197248232205
1988134186121140206251198211
1989130185116137200255185207
1990122179126131188245201197
1991108169109117169229175178
199210215188108160200151165
19939713793102153187141156
199410013487104160178148161
1995103134102107160180157162
199610712798108168178150167
1997961189399153161146153
1998901198694141158141144
1999911209396138162139143
2000831178189127155135134
2001831307489125170116131
2002841237688126162122131
2003811167085122153113126
2004761066479114146100117
200579107567811714288114
200677103477411213972107

For each vehicle type (car, pickup, SUV), the rates of driver deaths per million registered vehicles in 2006 were lowest for the largest and heaviest vehicles.

Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2006

Note: Pickups and SUVs are typically heavier than most passenger cars.

Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2006
 Rate
CarsMini106
Small99
Midsize70
Large69
Very large41
PickupsSmall116
Large98
Very large84
SUVsSmall42
Midsize50
Large43
Very large33

Multiple-vehicle crashes accounted for 36 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in 2006, while there were 38 deaths per million in single-vehicle crashes. In single-vehicle crashes, pickups had the highest number of deaths per registered vehicle (66 per million) in 2006. In multiple-vehicle crashes, cars had the highest number of deaths per registered vehicle (44 per million), and SUVs had the lowest number of deaths per registered vehicle (18 per million).

Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old by crash type, 2006
 Multiple-vehicleSingle-vehicleSingle-vehicle rolloverAll crashes
CarsMini693713106
Small57422199
Midsize38321570
Large41281169
Very large2615541
All cars44331577
PickupsSmall506642116
Large35634298
Very large24614584
All pickups376645103
SUVsSmall17251642
Midsize20311950
Large16271743
Very large11231433
All SUVs18291847
All passenger vehiclesAll36382174
Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, by crash type, 2006, by 2WD and 4WD for pickups and SUVs
 Multiple-vehicleSingle-vehicleSingle-vehicle rolloverAll crashes
2WD4WDAll2WD4WDAll2WD4WDAll2WD4WDAll
PickupsSmall564050676466414542123104116
Large4228356759634341421088798
Very large302224586161364845888384
All pickups45283766616642444511188103
SUVsSmall141817232725141816384542
Midsize241720372731221619614550
Large201316312427211517513843
Very large1681111272351714273633
All SUVs201618312629191618514347

Frontal impacts accounted for 20 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in multiple-vehicle crashes in 2006 compared with 13 deaths per million in side impacts and 2 deaths per million in rear impacts.

Driver deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2006
 Frontal impactsSide impactsRear impactsOtherTotal
Cars23182<144
Pickups23121<137
SUVs1141<118
All passenger vehicles20132<136
Driver deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2006, by passenger vehicle sizes
 Frontal impactsSide impactsRear impactsOtherTotal
CarsMini40207269
Small30242<157
Midsize21142<138
Large18202<141
Very large178<1<126
All cars23182<144
PickupsSmall29172<150
Large2310<1<135
Very large118<1224
All pickups23121<137
SUVsSmall1133<117
Midsize1251120
Large1131016
Very large92<1<111
All SUVs1141<118
All passenger vehiclesAll20132<136

Frontal impacts accounted for 17 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in single-vehicle crashes in 2006 compared with 8 deaths per million in side impacts and fewer than 1 death per million in rear impacts.

Driver deaths in single-vehicle crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2006
 Frontal impactsSide impactsRear impactsOtherTotal
Cars1591633
Pickups2811<12166
SUVs125<1929
All passenger vehicles178<11038
Driver deaths in single-vehicle crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2006, by passenger vehicle sizes
 Frontal impactsSide impactsRear impactsOtherTotal
CarsMini22112237
Small20112842
Midsize149<1732
Large149<1428
Very large83<1315
All cars1591633
PickupsSmall231112666
Large3013<11663
Very large23812461
All pickups2811<12166
SUVsSmall105<1825
Midsize145<11031
Large1141927
Very large85<1923
All SUVs125<1929
All passenger vehiclesAll178<11038

Rollover

A vehicle is classified as rolling over if it tips onto its side or roof at any time during the crash. The rollover may occur subsequent to a frontal or side impact with another vehicle or a fixed object. Many rollovers occur after a vehicle leaves the roadway and may lead to occupants being ejected from the vehicle, increasing the likelihood of a fatality.

A total of 10,682 passenger vehicle occupants died in rollover crashes in 2006. Twenty-three percent of these did not involve any other impact.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in rollover crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2006
Point of principal impactCar occupantsPickup occupantsSUV occupantsAll occupants
Num%Num%Num%Num%
Frontal1,8473999735853303,80436
Side9662044216440161,89618
Rear2074105410644334
None7151571925892322,40723
Other9862156620530192,14220
All*4,7211002,8291002,82110010,682100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Crashes in which a vehicle rolled over accounted for 35 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2006 (57 percent of single-vehicle occupant crash deaths and 13 percent of multiple-vehicle occupant crash deaths).

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by crash type, 1978-2006
YearDeaths in single-vehicle crashesDeaths in multiple-vehicle crashesDeaths in all crashes*
RolloverNo rolloverRolloverNo rolloverRolloverNo rollover
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%
19787,858488,460521,477817,093929,3502725,57373
19798,010488,542521,666916,779919,6912825,33572
19808,673499,000511,588915,6799110,2822924,71371
19818,211508,188501,588915,692919,8122923,89971
19826,974497,204511,305814,157928,2822821,37272
19836,951507,079501,256813,867928,2072820,94672
19847,116507,090501,358914,527918,4742821,61772
19856,900506,779501,361814,804928,2622821,58572
19867,954527,428481,501915,341919,4552922,76971
19878,162537,363471,629915,991919,7913023,35470
19888,562537,494471,582916,4679110,1443023,96170
19898,060527,558481,620916,361919,6802923,91971
19908,068527,382481,556915,705919,6242923,08771
19917,749527,131481,5231014,407909,2723021,53870
19927,135526,693481,4921014,137908,6272920,83071
19937,002516,821491,524914,647918,5262821,46872
19947,268526,636481,6691015,243908,9372921,87971
19957,802536,940471,7081015,463909,5103022,40370
19967,903536,891471,6911015,869909,5943022,76070
19977,711536,737471,7741016,109909,4852922,84671
19987,846546,594461,8721115,467899,7183122,06169
19998,255566,502441,8391115,4128910,0943221,91468
20008,112546,841461,8001015,356909,9123122,19769
20018,375556,786451,7471015,0309010,1223221,81668
20028,724557,114451,9521214,9348810,6763322,04867
20038,462556,936451,9401214,8288810,4023221,76468
20048,525566,764442,0221214,4398810,5473321,20367
20058,730576,713432,0951313,9028710,8253420,63066
20068,765576,654431,9141313,1098710,6823519,79465
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Since 1978 pickups and SUVs have a consistently higher percentage of rollover deaths than cars.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in rollover vs. no rollover crashes, 1978-2006
YearCar occupantsPickup occupantsSUV occupants
RolloverNo rolloverRolloverNo rolloverRolloverNo rollover
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%
19786,4222321,476771,989393,114615206133239
19796,4162321,102772,222413,201596306731533
19806,8622520,419752,263413,226597356538935
19816,5412519,865752,177423,059586636535835
19825,4772417,665761,935402,844605716629134
19835,3812417,419761,939422,721586096631134
19845,5252417,955762,048422,836585876629934
19855,2192317,857772,044422,848586716635334
19865,9962418,884762,371442,963567376539435
19875,9972419,118762,598453,197558246544535
19886,2272419,598762,762453,327558156250538
19895,7842319,485772,680453,336558476252638
19905,6952318,718772,713453,319559106157039
19915,4432417,295762,593443,265569346158739
19924,9442316,880772,479452,997558796351137
19934,8652217,252782,415433,196579716358137
19945,1122317,506772,393433,211571,1026170739
19955,3402317,784772,581433,392571,2576374937
19965,3232318,104772,539433,389571,4296578135
19975,1422218,009782,479423,443581,5166389937
19985,1202317,235772,537433,367571,703631,00837
19995,1742316,945772,699443,396561,901631,11837
20004,9972316,988772,532423,469582,064621,26838
20015,0282316,576772,657433,490572,138611,35739
20025,2432416,764762,730453,363552,459621,52838
20034,9162316,137772,555433,348572,612591,78141
20044,7792315,779772,572443,223562,898621,79738
20054,8272415,060762,817463,293542,868601,91440
20064,7212514,247752,829483,120522,821591,99641

More than three-fourths of fatal rollovers are single-vehicle crashes.[ Error ] The remaining facts will concentrate on single-vehicle rollovers.

A total of 8,765 passenger vehicle occupants died in single-vehicle rollover crashes in 2006, nearly the same as in 2005 but 12 percent more than in 1978.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes, 1978-2006
YearCar driversPickup driversSUV driversAll passenger vehicle driversAll passenger vehicle occupants
19783,7101,1402715,3237,858
19793,6101,2633295,3968,010
19803,9951,3094065,8958,673
19813,8261,2913645,6878,211
19823,2221,1623124,8286,974
19833,1691,1203194,7326,951
19843,2521,2263314,9647,116
19853,0761,2023604,7736,900
19863,4741,4013755,4007,954
19873,4271,5354035,5288,162
19883,6751,6564475,9258,562
19893,3091,6294635,5518,060
19903,2911,5634865,4778,068
19913,0921,5954705,2827,749
19922,8001,4924424,8487,135
19932,6641,4624944,7297,002
19942,8261,4035224,8797,268
19953,0051,5566025,2847,802
19962,9321,5147205,2947,903
19972,8171,4697545,1777,711
19982,8571,5458085,3287,846
19992,8661,6679995,6448,255
20002,7951,5261,0355,4668,112
20012,8361,6601,0545,6548,375
20022,9771,6801,2125,9678,724
20032,7551,6181,3085,7898,462
20042,7041,5671,4655,8538,525
20052,7591,7341,4576,0748,730
20062,7561,7661,5086,1828,765

Single-vehicle rollover crashes accounted for 47 percent of occupant deaths in SUVs in 2006, compared with 39 percent of occupant deaths in pickups and 21 percent in cars.

Deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes as a percent of all occupant deaths, 2006
 DriversAll occupants
Single-vehicle rolloverAll crashesSingle-vehicle rolloverAll crashes
Num%NumNum%Num
CarsMini175161,127241151,576
Small883214,2701,259216,108
Midsize933234,0241,286235,650
Large574212,672830214,020
Very large11415745176161,123
All cars2,7562113,1973,8992118,968
PickupsSmall576341,699734342,133
Large765401,9341,010402,545
Very large3214768145749928
All pickups1,766394,5712,342395,949
SUVsSmall36540921507411,236
Midsize875491,7711,284492,617
Large1584833128949584
Very large704914414856266
All SUVs1,508463,2452,284474,817
All passenger vehiclesAll6,1822921,4978,7652930,476


Deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes as a percent of all driver deaths, 2006, by 2WD and 4WD for pickups and SUVs
 2WD4WD
Single-vehicle rolloverAll crashesSingle-vehicle rolloverAll crashes
Num%NumNum%Num
PickupsSmall369301,23720745462
Large407351,17235847762
Very large863723323552448
All pickups878332,673808481,686
SUVsSmall1123829325340628
Midsize35651703517491,064
Large534611610549215
Very large304567405277
All SUVs551471,179915461,984
Deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes as a percent of all occupant deaths, 2006, by 2WD and 4WD for pickups and SUVs
 2WD4WD
Single-vehicle rolloverAll crashesSingle-vehicle rolloverAll crashes
Num%NumNum%Num
PickupsSmall459301,55127547582
Large527341,541483481,004
Very large1243931633354612
All pickups1,131333,4521,105502,223
SUVsSmall1523939435542842
Midsize554521,073728471,540
Large1265522916346355
Very large62501248661142
All SUVs894491,8201,332462,879

Since 1978, driver death rates for single-vehicle rollover crashes have declined across all passenger vehicle types, particularly for SUVs. Single-vehicle crashes involving rollover accounted for 21 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in 2006.

Driver deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 1978-2006
YearCar driversPickup driversSUV driversAll passenger vehicles
1978327814141
1979319015543
1980378316847
1981357613744
1982316512938
1983296212635
198427726934
198525617332
198624706232
198724686733
198826705534
198924686033
199025686034
199123665431
199220564027
199319505126
199419423725
199520494527
199624475531
199721444327
199821434328
199920494729
200018464227
200118533627
200218523728
200316483325
200415452923
200516452423
200615451821

References