Crashes took 35,092 lives in the U.S. in 2015.
The number and types of motor vehicle crash deaths differ widely among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. A state's population has an obvious effect on the number of motor vehicle deaths. Fatality rates per capita and per vehicle miles traveled provide a way of examining motor vehicle deaths relative to the population and amount of driving. However, many factors can affect these rates, including types of vehicles driven, travel speeds, rates of licensure, state traffic laws, emergency care capabilities, weather, and topography.
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.
There were 32,166 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2015 in which 35,092 deaths occurred. This resulted in 10.9 deaths per 100,000 people. The fatality rate per 100,000 people ranged from 3.4 in the District of Columbia to 24.7 in Wyoming.
Federal Highway Administration. 2015. Highway statistics, 2014. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.
In 2015, the types of motor vehicle crash deaths varied across states. For example, Wyoming and North Dakota had the highest percentage of deaths involving occupants of SUVs and pickups (50 percent) and some of the lowest proportions of deaths including car occupants (23 and 27 percent). In contrast, Massachusetts had one of the highest proportions of car occupant deaths (41 percent), a relatively high proportion of pedestrian deaths (24 percent), and a relatively low percentage of deaths involving SUV or pickup occupants (13 percent). The highest percentage of motorcyclist deaths occurred in New Hampshire and South Dakota (23 percent each). The percentage of pedestrian deaths was highest in the District of Columbia (57 percent).
Nationwide, 55 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in 2015 occurred in single-vehicle crashes. The largest proportion of deaths in single-vehicle crashes occurred in the District of Columbia (70 percent), Montana (68 percent), and Maine (67 percent), whereas the smallest proportion occurred in Minnesota (47 percent).
Some states report blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for only a small percentage of passenger vehicle drivers. If BAC is missing for a driver, it is estimated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's multiple imputation model.
Subramanian, R. 2002. Transitioning to multiple imputation — a new method to impute missing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) values in FARS. Report no. DOT HS-809-403. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
However, BAC information is most precise in states that report a high percentage of BACs. In the following table, estimated percentages of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs at or above 0.08 percent are shown only for states in which BAC reporting for fatally injured drivers was 70 percent or higher. Estimated percentages are based on known BAC when available and imputed BAC for the remaining drivers.
For the nation in 2015, BAC was reported for 70 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. Rhode Island reported BACs for 95 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers, while Mississippi reported BACs for 47 percent.
Thirty-nine states and The District of Columbia had BAC reporting rates of at least 70 percent. Among these states, Alaska had the highest estimated percentage of fatally injured drivers with BACs of 0.08 percent or higher (48 percent), and Utah had the lowest (17 percent).
Based on daytime observational surveys conducted by the states, the rate of safety belt use among front seat passenger vehicle occupants in 2015 ranged from 70 percent in New Hampshire to 97 percent in Georgia.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2016. Seat belt use in 2015 — use rates in the states and territories. Report no. DOT HS-812-274. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.
Rates of restraint use among fatally injured motor vehicle occupants will be lower than observed restraint use because unrestrained occupants are more likely than restrained occupants to be fatally injured in a crash. Restrained fatally injured occupants include occupants in child safety seats and occupants restrained by safety belts. Two states, California and Maryland, and the District of Columbia had at least 60 percent restraint use among fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants. In contrast, six states — Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming — had use rates below 30 percent.
Nationwide, 49 percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2015 occurred in rural areas. The percentage on rural roads was 93 percent in North Dakota, 89 percent in Montana, and 85 percent in South Dakota compared with 6 percent in Massachusetts, 8 percent in Maryland, 11 percent in New Jersey, and none in the District of Columbia.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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