Passenger vehicle occupants | 2008

By far the largest Numberber 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: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 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 weight Shadow
(overall length x width in square feet)
    Curb weight     Curb weight
≤ 80 81-90 91-100 101-110 > 110   Small ≤ 3,750 lbs   Small ≤ 4,000 lbs
≤ 2,500 lbs Mini Small Small Small Midsize   Midsize 3,751-4,750 lbs   Large > 4,000 lbs and carrying capacity = 1/2 ton
2,501-3,000 lbs Small Small Midsize Midsize Midsize   Large 4,751-5,750 lbs   Very large > 4,000 lbs and carrying capacity > 1/2 ton
3,001-3,500 lbs Small Midsize Midsize Large Large   Very large > 5,750 lbs or shadow > 115 sq ft    
3,501-4,000 lbs Small Midsize Large Large Very large      
> 4,000 lbs Midsize Midsize Large Very large Very 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 25,428 passenger vehicle occupants died in 2008, 17 percent less than in 1975. However, the distribution of vehicle types among these crashes has changed. Car occupant deaths have declined 39 percent since 1975, while pickup occupant deaths have risen 37 percent and SUV occupant deaths are more than 9 times as high.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by vehicle type, 1975-2008

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by vehicle type, 1975-2008
Year Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All passenger vehicle occupants
1975 25,715 3,674 455 30,601
1976 26,163 4,225 577 31,724
1977 26,698 4,512 729 32,823
1978 27,898 5,103 852 34,923
1979 27,518 5,423 945 35,026
1980 27,282 5,489 1,124 34,996
1981 26,406 5,236 1,021 33,711
1982 23,144 4,779 862 29,656
1983 22,801 4,660 920 29,154
1984 23,482 4,884 886 30,093
1985 23,076 4,892 1,024 29,847
1986 24,880 5,334 1,131 32,224
1987 25,115 5,795 1,269 33,145
1988 25,825 6,089 1,320 34,105
1989 25,269 6,016 1,373 33,599
1990 24,413 6,032 1,480 32,711
1991 22,738 5,858 1,521 30,810
1992 21,824 5,476 1,390 29,457
1993 22,117 5,611 1,552 29,994
1994 22,622 5,604 1,809 30,820
1995 23,124 5,973 2,006 31,913
1996 23,426 5,928 2,210 32,353
1997 23,162 5,922 2,416 32,343
1998 22,357 5,904 2,711 31,781
1999 22,119 6,095 3,019 32,008
2000 21,985 5,996 3,337 32,109
2001 21,604 6,121 3,521 31,938
2002 22,007 6,058 4,022 32,724
2003 21,053 5,833 4,463 32,166
2004 20,560 5,716 4,772 31,750
2005 19,892 6,040 4,847 31,455
2006 19,034 5,877 4,973 30,628
2007 17,762 5,758 4,975 29,155
2008 15,631 5,025 4,326 25,428

A total of 18,201 passenger vehicle drivers died in 2008, 11 percent less than in 2007 and 6 percent less than in 1975. Sixty-one percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths in 2008 were car drivers, 22 percent were pickup drivers, and 16 percent were SUV drivers.

Passenger vehicle driver deaths by vehicle type, 1975-2008
Year Car drivers Pickup drivers SUV drivers All passenger vehicle drivers
Num % Num % Num % Num
1975 16,141 83 2,481 13 270 1 19,349
1976 16,385 82 2,890 14 347 2 20,091
1977 16,903 81 3,076 15 434 2 20,941
1978 18,047 79 3,535 16 519 2 22,758
1979 18,064 78 3,734 16 596 3 23,109
1980 17,848 78 3,776 16 684 3 22,991
1981 17,553 78 3,687 16 623 3 22,506
1982 15,235 77 3,345 17 549 3 19,664
1983 15,058 78 3,219 17 575 3 19,338
1984 15,786 78 3,422 17 557 3 20,299
1985 15,430 77 3,446 17 645 3 20,057
1986 16,503 77 3,764 18 690 3 21,503
1987 16,722 75 4,082 18 765 3 22,157
1988 17,183 75 4,332 19 850 4 22,884
1989 16,775 74 4,365 19 877 4 22,554
1990 16,200 74 4,307 20 951 4 21,953
1991 14,938 73 4,256 21 943 5 20,551
1992 14,337 73 3,958 20 863 4 19,573
1993 14,547 73 4,105 20 977 5 20,036
1994 14,916 72 4,130 20 1,140 6 20,647
1995 15,323 71 4,431 21 1,248 6 21,456
1996 15,379 71 4,402 20 1,399 6 21,631
1997 15,317 71 4,376 20 1,537 7 21,711
1998 15,035 70 4,452 21 1,686 8 21,627
1999 14,809 68 4,658 21 1,986 9 21,899
2000 14,719 67 4,535 21 2,086 10 21,819
2001 14,553 67 4,641 21 2,265 10 21,862
2002 14,897 66 4,658 21 2,599 12 22,537
2003 14,380 65 4,522 20 2,829 13 22,200
2004 14,040 64 4,344 20 3,139 14 21,952
2005 13,728 63 4,642 21 3,171 14 21,953
2006 13,235 61 4,528 21 3,347 16 21,592
2007 12,421 60 4,451 22 3,269 16 20,542
2008 11,019 61 3,935 22 2,971 16 18,201

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths represented 68 percent of the 37,261 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2008.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths vs. all motor vehicle crash deaths, 1975-2008
Year Passenger vehicle occupant deaths Other deaths All motor vehicle crash deaths
Num % Num % Num
1975 30,601 69 13,924 31 44,525
1976 31,724 70 13,799 30 45,523
1977 32,823 69 15,055 31 47,878
1978 34,923 69 15,408 31 50,331
1979 35,026 69 16,067 31 51,093
1980 34,996 68 16,095 32 51,091
1981 33,711 68 15,590 32 49,301
1982 29,656 67 14,289 33 43,945
1983 29,154 68 13,435 32 42,589
1984 30,093 68 14,164 32 44,257
1985 29,847 68 13,978 32 43,825
1986 32,224 70 13,863 30 46,087
1987 33,145 71 13,245 29 46,390
1988 34,105 72 12,982 28 47,087
1989 33,599 74 11,983 26 45,582
1990 32,711 73 11,888 27 44,599
1991 30,810 74 10,698 26 41,508
1992 29,457 75 9,793 25 39,250
1993 29,994 75 10,156 25 40,150
1994 30,820 76 9,896 24 40,716
1995 31,913 76 9,904 24 41,817
1996 32,353 77 9,712 23 42,065
1997 32,343 77 9,670 23 42,013
1998 31,781 77 9,720 23 41,501
1999 32,008 77 9,709 23 41,717
2000 32,109 77 9,836 23 41,945
2001 31,938 76 10,258 24 42,196
2002 32,724 76 10,281 24 43,005
2003 32,166 75 10,718 25 42,884
2004 31,750 74 11,086 26 42,836
2005 31,455 72 12,055 28 43,510
2006 30,628 72 12,080 28 42,708
2007 29,155 71 12,104 29 41,259
2008 25,428 68 11,833 32 37,261

Crash types

Frontal impacts accounted for 52 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2008. Side impacts accounted for another 28 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in single-vehicle crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2008
Point of principal impact Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All occupants
Num % Num % Num % Num %
Frontal 3,806 53 1,611 50 1,216 43 6,753 50
Side 1,656 23 528 16 440 16 2,655 20
Rear 234 3 54 2 53 2 346 3
Other (mostly rollover) 1,494 21 1,033 32 1,125 40 3,728 28
All* 7,190 100 3,226 100 2,834 100 13,482 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2008
Point of principal impact Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All occupants
Num % Num % Num % Num %
Frontal 4,292 51 1,116 62 819 55 6,357 53
Side 3,374 40 502 28 456 31 4,384 37
Rear 549 7 96 5 147 10 807 7
Other (mostly rollover) 215 3 84 5 67 4 383 3
All* 8,430 100 1,798 100 1,489 100 11,931 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in all crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2008
Point of principal impact Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All occupants
Num % Num % Num % Num %
Frontal 8,107 52 2,728 54 2,038 47 13,123 52
Side 5,032 32 1,030 20 896 21 7,041 28
Rear 783 5 150 3 200 5 1,153 5
Other (mostly rollover) 1,709 11 1,117 22 1,192 28 4,111 16
All* 15,631 100 5,025 100 4,326 100 25,428 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Forty-six percent of car occupant deaths in 2008 occurred in single-vehicle crashes and 54 percent occurred in multiple-vehicle crashes. In contrast, single-vehicle crashes accounted for 66 percent of SUV occupant deaths and 64 percent of pickup occupant deaths.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by vehicle and crash type, 2008
Vehicle type Deaths in single-vehicle crashes Deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes Deaths in all crashes*
Num % Num % Num
Cars 7,190 46 8,430 54 15,631
Pickups 3,226 64 1,798 36 5,025
SUVs 2,834 66 1,489 34 4,326
Other 232 52 214 48 446
All passenger vehicles 13,482 53 11,931 47 25,428
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender differences

Thirty percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2008 were younger than 25.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by age, 2008
Age All occupants
Num %
< 25 7,680 30
25-29 2,625 10
30-34 1,795 7
35-39 1,657 7
40-44 1,661 7
45-49 1,743 7
50-54 1,513 6
55-59 1,324 5
60-64 1,145 5
65-69 863 3
≥ 70 3,382 13
All * 25,428 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Seventy-two percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2008 were drivers; 71 percent of these drivers were males.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by occupant age, type, and gender, 2008
Age Drivers All occupants
Male Female Total* Male Female Total*
Num % Num % Num Num % Num % Num
< 16 29 60 19 40 48 583 54 489 46 1,072
16-19 1,182 68 561 32 1,744 1,870 65 1,023 35 2,894
20-24 1,998 76 634 24 2,632 2,734 74 980 26 3,714
25-29 1,501 77 452 23 1,953 1,942 74 683 26 2,625
30-34 1,065 76 339 24 1,404 1,315 73 480 27 1,795
35-39 923 70 387 30 1,310 1,115 67 542 33 1,657
40-44 945 72 369 28 1,314 1,143 69 518 31 1,661
45-49 958 69 439 31 1,397 1,134 65 609 35 1,743
50-54 861 69 382 31 1,243 981 65 532 35 1,513
55-59 755 70 324 30 1,079 846 64 478 36 1,324
60-64 645 68 297 31 943 731 64 413 36 1,145
65-69 463 68 216 32 679 527 61 336 39 863
≥ 70 1,633 67 806 33 2,440 1,932 57 1,449 43 3,382
All* 12,969 71 5,226 29 18,201 16,883 66 8,538 34 25,428
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Nine percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths were in the second or third row; 24 percent of these were younger than 13.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by seating position and age, 2008
Age
< 13 13-19 ≥ 20 All*
Seating position Num % Num % Num % Num
Driver 1 < 1 1,791 10 16,394 90 18,201
Front row passenger 130 3 843 18 3,625 79 4,609
Second row passenger 478 23 507 24 1,086 52 2,076
Third row passenger 32 37 25 29 29 34 86
All* 697 3 3,269 13 21,422 84 25,428
*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, 1978-2008
Year Drivers All occupants
Cars Pickups SUVs All passenger vehicles Cars Pickups SUVs All passenger vehicles
1978 155 237 273 169 235 346 438 256
1979 165 246 271 180 244 350 425 265
1980 167 221 287 177 248 316 494 263
1981 177 216 237 182 259 296 389 265
1982 155 188 229 159 231 263 392 236
1983 148 188 225 153 220 263 337 225
1984 147 190 143 151 218 259 218 222
1985 139 182 141 144 208 257 227 213
1986 128 172 134 133 196 239 224 202
1987 130 178 136 136 197 248 232 205
1988 134 186 121 140 206 251 198 211
1989 130 185 116 137 200 255 185 207
1990 122 179 126 131 188 245 201 197
1991 108 169 109 117 169 229 175 178
1992 102 151 88 108 160 200 151 165
1993 97 137 93 102 153 187 141 156
1994 100 134 87 104 160 178 148 161
1995 103 134 102 107 160 180 157 162
1996 107 127 98 108 168 178 150 167
1997 96 118 93 99 153 161 146 153
1998 90 119 86 94 141 158 141 144
1999 91 120 93 96 138 162 139 143
2000 83 117 81 89 127 155 135 134
2001 83 130 74 89 125 170 116 131
2002 84 123 76 88 126 162 122 131
2003 81 115 72 85 122 151 115 126
2004 76 107 66 79 114 145 103 117
2005 79 110 56 78 117 145 88 115
2006 77 101 49 73 112 137 74 106
2007 70 95 44 67 104 128 69 99
2008 65 87 35 60 92 114 52 85

For each vehicle type (car, pickup, SUV), the rates of driver deaths per million registered vehicles in 2008 were lower for the larger and heavier vehicles.

Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2008

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

Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2008
  Registered vehicles Deaths Rate
Cars Mini 966,923 88 91
Small 7,153,049 635 89
Midsize 9,427,213 526 56
Large 4,997,047 316 63
Very large 3,091,532 89 29
All cars 25,635,764 1,665 65
Pickups Small 1,400,979 150 107
Large 3,962,087 310 78
Very large 1,546,168 121 78
All pickups 6,909,234 600 87
SUVs Small 2,921,910 130 44
Midsize 5,663,042 177 31
Large 2,079,454 69 33
Very large 617,311 17 28
All SUVs 11,281,717 398 35
All passenger vehicles All 44,516,072 2,691 60

Multiple-vehicle crashes accounted for 29 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in 2008, while there were 31 deaths per million in single-vehicle crashes. In single-vehicle crashes, pickups had the highest number of deaths per registered vehicle (56 per million) in 2008. In multiple-vehicle crashes, cars had the highest number of deaths per registered vehicle (35 per million), and SUVs had the lowest number of deaths per registered vehicle (16 per million).

Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old by crash type, 2008
  Multiple-vehicle Single-vehicle Single-vehicle rollover All crashes
Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate
Cars Mini 59 61 29 30 15 16 88 91
Small 331 46 304 42 145 20 635 89
Midsize 264 28 262 28 111 12 526 56
Large 177 35 138 28 61 12 316 63
Very large 51 16 38 12 14 5 89 29
All cars 891 35 773 30 346 13 1,665 65
Pickups Small 63 45 87 62 43 31 150 107
Large 105 27 205 52 112 28 310 78
Very large 36 23 85 55 62 40 121 78
All pickups 216 31 384 56 219 32 600 87
SUVs Small 65 22 65 22 37 13 130 44
Midsize 74 13 103 18 61 11 177 31
Large 31 15 38 18 24 12 69 33
Very large 5 8 12 19 10 16 17 28
All SUVs 178 16 220 20 133 12 398 35
All passenger vehicles All 1,301 29 1,389 31 704 16 2,691 60
Driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, by crash type, 2008, by 2WD and 4WD for pickups and SUVs
  Multiple-vehicle Single-vehicle Single-vehicle rollover All crashes
2WD 4WD 2WD 4WD 2WD 4WD 2WD 4WD
Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate
Pickups Small 45 51 18 34 58 66 29 55 26 30 17 32 103 117 47 90
Large 61 30 44 23 110 54 95 49 53 26 59 31 171 84 139 72
Very large 9 28 27 22 13 40 72 59 11 34 51 42 22 68 99 81
All pickups 115 35 89 24 181 56 196 53 90 28 127 35 296 91 285 78
SUVs Small 33 26 32 20 30 23 35 21 15 12 22 13 63 49 67 41
Midsize 35 18 39 10 50 26 53 14 30 16 31 8 85 44 92 25
Large 13 18 18 13 18 24 20 15 12 16 12 9 31 42 38 28
Very large 3 15 2 5 6 31 6 14 4 20 6 14 9 46 8 19
All SUVs 84 20 91 13 104 25 114 16 61 15 71 10 188 45 205 29

Frontal impacts accounted for 17 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in multiple-vehicle crashes in 2008 compared with 10 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, 2008
  Frontal impacts Side impacts Rear impacts Other Total
Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate
Cars 512 20 296 12 60 2 14 < 1 891 35
Pickups 121 18 65 9 16 2 6 < 1 216 31
SUVs 90 8 66 6 13 1 7 < 1 178 16
All passenger vehicles 738 17 428 10 89 2 27 < 1 1,301 29
Driver deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2008, by passenger vehicle sizes
  Frontal impacts Side impacts Rear impacts Other Total
Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate
Cars Mini 40 41 14 14 3 3 0 0 59 61
Small 187 26 108 15 29 4 6 < 1 331 46
Midsize 141 15 99 11 16 2 2 < 1 264 28
Large 106 21 59 12 10 2 2 < 1 177 35
Very large 32 10 13 4 2 < 1 4 1 51 16
All cars 512 20 296 12 60 2 14 < 1 891 35
Pickups Small 32 23 22 16 4 3 1 < 1 63 45
Large 63 16 28 7 9 2 3 < 1 105 27
Very large 19 12 11 7 2 1 2 1 36 23
All pickups 121 18 65 9 16 2 6 < 1 216 31
SUVs Small 35 12 22 8 4 1 3 1 65 22
Midsize 31 5 33 6 8 1 1 < 1 74 13
Large 19 9 9 4 1 < 1 2 1 31 15
Very large 3 5 1 2 0 0 1 2 5 8
All SUVs 90 8 66 6 13 1 7 < 1 178 16
All passenger vehicles All 738 17 428 10 89 2 27 < 1 1,301 29

Frontal impacts accounted for 18 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in single-vehicle crashes in 2008 compared with 6 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, 2008
  Frontal impacts Side impacts Rear impacts Other Total
Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate
Cars 452 18 160 6 15 < 1 112 4 773 30
Pickups 202 29 53 8 7 1 104 15 384 56
SUVs 132 12 34 3 3 < 1 44 4 220 20
All passenger vehicles 795 18 248 6 25 < 1 262 6 1,389 31
Driver deaths in single-vehicle crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 2008, by passenger vehicle sizes
  Frontal impacts Side impacts Rear impacts Other Total
Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate Deaths Rate
Cars Mini 17 18 4 4 1 1 6 6 29 30
Small 162 23 74 10 5 < 1 51 7 304 42
Midsize 162 17 46 5 5 < 1 38 4 262 28
Large 86 17 32 6 2 < 1 14 3 138 28
Very large 23 7 4 1 2 < 1 3 < 1 38 12
All cars 452 18 160 6 15 < 1 112 4 773 30
Pickups Small 47 34 7 5 2 1 27 19 87 62
Large 111 28 33 8 4 1 47 12 205 52
Very large 39 25 12 8 1 < 1 29 19 85 55
All pickups 202 29 53 8 7 1 104 15 384 56
SUVs Small 41 14 14 5 0 0 8 3 65 22
Midsize 60 11 18 3 2 < 1 20 4 103 18
Large 22 11 2 1 1 < 1 12 6 38 18
Very large 8 13 0 0 0 0 3 5 12 19
All SUVs 132 12 34 3 3 < 1 44 4 220 20
All passenger vehicles All 795 18 248 6 25 < 1 262 6 1,389 31

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 9,023 passenger vehicle occupants died in rollover crashes in 2008. Twenty percent of these did not involve any other impact.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in rollover crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2008
Point of principal impact Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All occupants
Num % Num % Num % Num %
Frontal 1,702 43 938 40 878 35 3,585 40
Side 723 18 366 15 418 17 1,546 17
Rear 182 5 83 3 98 4 372 4
None 571 14 563 24 683 27 1,849 20
Other 789 20 422 18 417 17 1,671 19
All* 3,967 100 2,372 100 2,494 100 9,023 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Crashes in which a vehicle rolled over accounted for 35 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2008 (56 percent of single-vehicle occupant crash deaths and 13 percent of multiple-vehicle occupant crash deaths).

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by crash type, 1978-2008
Year Deaths in single-vehicle crashes Deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes Deaths in all crashes*
Rollover No rollover Rollover No rollover Rollover No rollover
Num % Num % Num % Num % Num % Num %
1978 7,858 48 8,460 52 1,477 8 17,093 92 9,350 27 25,573 73
1979 8,010 48 8,542 52 1,666 9 16,779 91 9,691 28 25,335 72
1980 8,673 49 9,001 51 1,588 9 15,679 91 10,282 29 24,714 71
1981 8,211 50 8,188 50 1,588 9 15,692 91 9,812 29 23,899 71
1982 6,974 49 7,205 51 1,305 8 14,158 92 8,282 28 21,374 72
1983 6,951 50 7,079 50 1,256 8 13,868 92 8,207 28 20,947 72
1984 7,116 50 7,091 50 1,358 9 14,528 91 8,474 28 21,619 72
1985 6,900 50 6,779 50 1,361 8 14,804 92 8,262 28 21,585 72
1986 7,954 52 7,428 48 1,501 9 15,341 91 9,455 29 22,769 71
1987 8,162 53 7,363 47 1,629 9 15,991 91 9,791 30 23,354 70
1988 8,562 53 7,494 47 1,582 9 16,467 91 10,144 30 23,961 70
1989 8,060 52 7,558 48 1,620 9 16,361 91 9,680 29 23,919 71
1990 8,068 52 7,382 48 1,556 9 15,705 91 9,624 29 23,087 71
1991 7,749 52 7,131 48 1,523 10 14,407 90 9,272 30 21,538 70
1992 7,135 52 6,693 48 1,492 10 14,137 90 8,627 29 20,830 71
1993 7,002 51 6,821 49 1,524 9 14,647 91 8,526 28 21,468 72
1994 7,268 52 6,637 48 1,669 10 15,246 90 8,937 29 21,883 71
1995 7,802 53 6,940 47 1,708 10 15,463 90 9,510 30 22,403 70
1996 7,903 53 6,891 47 1,691 10 15,869 90 9,594 30 22,760 70
1997 7,712 53 6,743 47 1,774 10 16,114 90 9,486 29 22,857 71
1998 7,848 54 6,594 46 1,872 11 15,467 89 9,720 31 22,061 69
1999 8,255 56 6,502 44 1,839 11 15,412 89 10,094 32 21,914 68
2000 8,112 54 6,841 46 1,800 10 15,356 90 9,912 31 22,197 69
2001 8,375 55 6,786 45 1,747 10 15,030 90 10,122 32 21,816 68
2002 8,724 55 7,114 45 1,952 12 14,934 88 10,676 33 22,048 67
2003 8,462 55 6,936 45 1,940 12 14,828 88 10,402 32 21,764 68
2004 8,525 56 6,764 44 2,022 12 14,439 88 10,547 33 21,203 67
2005 8,730 57 6,713 43 2,095 13 13,902 87 10,825 34 20,630 66
2006 8,790 57 6,666 43 1,919 13 13,229 87 10,712 35 19,916 65
2007 8,429 56 6,528 44 1,844 13 12,330 87 10,274 35 18,881 65
2008 7,504 56 5,978 44 1,516 13 10,415 87 9,023 35 16,405 65
*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, 1978-2008
Year Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants
Rollover No rollover Rollover No rollover Rollover No rollover
Num % Num % Num % Num % Num % Num %
1978 6,422 23 21,476 77 1,989 39 3,114 61 520 61 332 39
1979 6,416 23 21,102 77 2,222 41 3,201 59 630 67 315 33
1980 6,862 25 20,420 75 2,263 41 3,226 59 735 65 389 35
1981 6,541 25 19,865 75 2,177 42 3,059 58 663 65 358 35
1982 5,477 24 17,667 76 1,935 40 2,844 60 571 66 291 34
1983 5,381 24 17,420 76 1,939 42 2,721 58 609 66 311 34
1984 5,525 24 17,957 76 2,048 42 2,836 58 587 66 299 34
1985 5,219 23 17,857 77 2,044 42 2,848 58 671 66 353 34
1986 5,996 24 18,884 76 2,371 44 2,963 56 737 65 394 35
1987 5,997 24 19,118 76 2,598 45 3,197 55 824 65 445 35
1988 6,227 24 19,598 76 2,762 45 3,327 55 815 62 505 38
1989 5,784 23 19,485 77 2,680 45 3,336 55 847 62 526 38
1990 5,695 23 18,718 77 2,713 45 3,319 55 910 61 570 39
1991 5,443 24 17,295 76 2,593 44 3,265 56 934 61 587 39
1992 4,944 23 16,880 77 2,479 45 2,997 55 879 63 511 37
1993 4,865 22 17,252 78 2,415 43 3,196 57 971 63 581 37
1994 5,112 23 17,510 77 2,393 43 3,211 57 1,102 61 707 39
1995 5,340 23 17,784 77 2,581 43 3,392 57 1,257 63 749 37
1996 5,323 23 18,104 77 2,539 43 3,389 57 1,429 65 781 35
1997 5,143 22 18,019 78 2,479 42 3,443 58 1,516 63 900 37
1998 5,122 23 17,235 77 2,537 43 3,367 57 1,703 63 1,008 37
1999 5,174 23 16,945 77 2,699 44 3,396 56 1,901 63 1,118 37
2000 4,997 23 16,988 77 2,529 42 3,467 58 2,067 62 1,270 38
2001 5,028 23 16,576 77 2,636 43 3,485 57 2,159 61 1,362 39
2002 5,243 24 16,764 76 2,715 45 3,343 55 2,474 62 1,548 38
2003 4,916 23 16,137 77 2,509 43 3,324 57 2,658 60 1,805 40
2004 4,781 23 15,779 77 2,519 44 3,197 56 2,949 62 1,823 38
2005 4,830 24 15,062 76 2,773 46 3,267 54 2,909 60 1,938 40
2006 4,739 25 14,295 75 2,781 47 3,096 53 2,919 59 2,054 41
2007 4,399 25 13,363 75 2,660 46 3,098 54 2,929 59 2,046 41
2008 3,967 25 11,664 75 2,372 47 2,653 53 2,494 58 1,832 42

More than three-fourths of fatal rollovers are single-vehicle crashes. Deutermann, W. 2002. Characteristics of fatal rollover crashes. Report no. DOT HS-809-438. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The remaining facts will concentrate on single-vehicle rollovers.

A total of 7,504 passenger vehicle occupants died in single-vehicle rollover crashes in 2008, 11 percent less than in 2007 and 5 percent less than in 1978.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes, 1978-2008
Year Car drivers Pickup drivers SUV drivers All passenger vehicle drivers All passenger vehicle occupants
1978 3,710 1,140 271 5,323 7,858
1979 3,610 1,263 329 5,396 8,010
1980 3,995 1,309 406 5,895 8,673
1981 3,826 1,291 364 5,687 8,211
1982 3,222 1,162 312 4,828 6,974
1983 3,169 1,120 319 4,732 6,951
1984 3,252 1,226 331 4,964 7,116
1985 3,076 1,202 360 4,773 6,900
1986 3,474 1,401 375 5,400 7,954
1987 3,427 1,535 403 5,528 8,162
1988 3,675 1,656 447 5,925 8,562
1989 3,309 1,629 463 5,551 8,060
1990 3,291 1,563 486 5,477 8,068
1991 3,092 1,595 470 5,282 7,749
1992 2,800 1,492 442 4,848 7,135
1993 2,664 1,462 494 4,729 7,002
1994 2,826 1,403 522 4,879 7,268
1995 3,005 1,556 602 5,284 7,802
1996 2,932 1,514 720 5,294 7,903
1997 2,818 1,469 754 5,178 7,712
1998 2,857 1,545 808 5,328 7,848
1999 2,866 1,667 999 5,644 8,255
2000 2,795 1,526 1,035 5,466 8,112
2001 2,836 1,651 1,063 5,654 8,375
2002 2,977 1,668 1,224 5,967 8,724
2003 2,755 1,595 1,331 5,789 8,462
2004 2,706 1,540 1,490 5,853 8,525
2005 2,761 1,711 1,478 6,074 8,730
2006 2,764 1,754 1,555 6,198 8,790
2007 2,633 1,683 1,516 5,934 8,429
2008 2,351 1,544 1,397 5,365 7,504

Single-vehicle rollover crashes accounted for 48 percent of occupant deaths in SUVs in 2008, 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, 2008
  Drivers All occupants
Single-vehicle rollover All crashes Single-vehicle rollover All crashes
Num % Num Num % Num
Cars Mini 144 17 824 196 18 1,109
Small 763 22 3,513 1,077 22 4,876
Midsize 755 22 3,373 1,047 22 4,817
Large 553 22 2,483 797 22 3,558
Very large 120 17 712 190 17 1,103
All cars 2,351 21 11,019 3,334 21 15,631
Pickups Small 481 34 1,402 592 34 1,723
Large 729 40 1,818 943 40 2,359
Very large 277 50 558 373 50 739
All pickups 1,544 39 3,935 1,978 39 5,025
SUVs Small 325 40 812 439 40 1,097
Midsize 781 49 1,588 1,135 50 2,284
Large 189 49 383 312 50 618
Very large 87 55 157 160 56 288
All SUVs 1,397 47 2,971 2,064 48 4,326
All passenger vehicles All 5,365 29 18,201 7,504 30 25,428


Deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes as a percent of all driver deaths, 2008, by 2WD and 4WD for pickups and SUVs
  2WD 4WD
Single-vehicle rollover All crashes Single-vehicle rollover All crashes
Num % Num Num % Num
Pickups Small 317 30 1,050 164 47 352
Large 361 34 1,061 368 49 757
Very large 67 41 164 210 53 394
All pickups 751 33 2,294 745 49 1,507
SUVs Small 85 33 255 240 43 557
Midsize 306 48 635 475 50 953
Large 83 52 159 106 47 224
Very large 33 52 63 54 57 94
All SUVs 508 46 1,113 879 48 1,838
Deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes as a percent of all occupant deaths, 2008, by 2WD and 4WD for pickups and SUVs
  2WD 4WD
Single-vehicle rollover All crashes Single-vehicle rollover All crashes
Num % Num Num % Num
Pickups Small 385 30 1,278 207 47 445
Large 473 35 1,365 470 47 994
Very large 89 42 210 284 54 529
All pickups 957 33 2,878 965 49 1,973
SUVs Small 128 36 356 311 42 741
Midsize 456 50 919 679 50 1,365
Large 144 53 271 168 48 347
Very large 70 53 133 90 58 155
All SUVs 799 48 1,680 1,252 48 2,620

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 16 driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles in 2008.

Driver deaths in single-vehicle rollover crashes per million registered passenger vehicles 1-3 years old, 1978-2008
Year Car drivers Pickup drivers SUV drivers All passenger vehicles
1978 32 78 141 41
1979 31 90 155 43
1980 37 83 168 47
1981 35 76 137 44
1982 31 65 129 38
1983 29 62 126 35
1984 27 72 69 34
1985 25 61 73 32
1986 24 70 62 32
1987 24 68 67 33
1988 26 70 55 34
1989 24 68 60 33
1990 25 68 60 34
1991 23 66 54 31
1992 20 56 40 27
1993 19 50 51 26
1994 19 42 37 25
1995 20 49 45 27
1996 24 47 55 31
1997 21 44 43 27
1998 21 43 43 28
1999 20 49 47 29
2000 18 46 42 27
2001 18 53 36 27
2002 19 52 36 28
2003 16 47 34 25
2004 15 44 30 23
2005 16 46 24 23
2006 15 44 19 21
2007 14 38 16 19
2008 13 32 12 16

References