Crashes took 32,367 lives in the U.S. in 2011.
The number and type 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 provide a way of examining motor vehicle deaths relative to a state's population, but many factors can affect these rates. Western states with large rural areas typically have high fatality rates because of such factors as higher speed traffic. Other factors include differing degrees of urbanization, amounts and types of travel, types of vehicles driven, 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).
There were 39,189 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2005 in which 43,443 deaths occurred. This resulted in a national motor vehicle death rate of 15 deaths per 100,000 people. Motor vehicle death rates varied among states from a low of 7 deaths per 100,000 people in Massachusetts and New York, to a high of 33 deaths per 100,000 people in Wyoming.
States with lowest and highest motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people, 2005
In 2005 the types of motor vehicle crash deaths varied across states. For example, Wyoming had relatively low percentages of deaths involving passenger car occupants (31 percent) and pedestrians (4 percent) and a relatively high percentage of deaths involving occupants of SUVs and pickups (44 percent). In contrast, New Jersey had relatively high proportions of passenger car occupant deaths (50 percent) and pedestrian deaths (21 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 (25 percent), and pedestrian deaths were highest in the District of Columbia (33 percent).
Nationwide 49 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2005 occurred in single-vehicle crashes. The highest proportions of single-vehicle crashes occurred in Montana (72 percent), the District of Columbia (71 percent), North Dakota (65 percent), and Wyoming (65 percent).
Some states report blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for only a small percentage of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. If BAC is missing for a driver, it is imputed by the US 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: US Department of Transportation.
However, state BAC information is most precise in states that report a high percentage of BACs. In the following table, estimated percentages of fatally injured drivers with BACs at or above 0.08 percent are shown only for states in which BAC reporting 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 2005, BAC was reported for 64 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. Reporting rates varied by state. Hawaii reported BACs for 96 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers, while Alabama reported BACs for 10 percent. Among states with reporting rates of at least 70 percent, the District of Columbia (61 percent) had the highest estimated percentage of fatally injured drivers with BACs of 0.08 percent or higher, and Nebraska and New Jersey (both 26 percent) had the lowest.
When examining belt use among fatally injured motor vehicle occupants, it is important to note that percentages will be lower than observed belt use because unbelted occupants are more likely than belted occupants to be fatally injured.
The percentage of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants who were belted in 2005 varied by state. North Dakota and South Dakota (both 23 percent) had the lowest percentage of fatally injured belted occupants, and Oregon had the highest (63 percent). For the nation, 41 percent of fatally injured occupants were belted.
Sixty-one percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2005 occurred in rural areas. The state with the greatest proportion of passenger vehicle occupant deaths on rural roads was North Dakota (95 percent).
©1996-2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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