State by state | 2008

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. However, many factors can affect these rates, including amounts and types of travel, types of vehicles driven, higher speed traffic, 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).

Fatal crash totals

There were 34,017 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2008 in which 37,261 deaths occurred. This resulted in a national motor vehicle death rate of 12.3 deaths per 100,000 people. Motor vehicle death rates varied among states from a low of 5.6 deaths per 100,000 people in Massachusetts, to a high of 29.8 deaths per 100,000 people in Wyoming.

States with lowest and highest rates of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people, 2008

Population, fatal motor vehicle crashes, crash deaths, and crash deaths per 100,000 people by state, 2008
StatePopulationFatal crashesDeaths
NumNumDeath rate
Alabama4,661,90088896620.7
Alaska686,29355629.0
Arizona6,500,18084293714.4
Arkansas2,855,39055260021.0
California36,756,6663,1453,4349.3
Colorado4,939,45647354811.1
Connecticut3,501,2522432647.5
Delaware873,09210512113.9
District of Columbia591,83332345.7
Florida18,328,3402,7602,97816.2
Georgia9,685,7441,3681,49315.4
Hawaii1,288,1981021078.3
Idaho1,523,81621223215.2
Illinois12,901,5639501,0438.1
Indiana6,376,79272181412.8
Iowa3,002,55536841213.7
Kansas2,802,13434838513.7
Kentucky4,269,24575282619.3
Louisiana4,410,79681791220.7
Maine1,316,45614415511.8
Maryland5,633,59753859110.5
Massachusetts6,497,9673373635.6
Michigan10,003,4229159809.8
Minnesota5,220,3934214568.7
Mississippi2,938,61871178326.6
Missouri5,911,60584596016.2
Montana967,44020822923.7
Nebraska1,783,43218820811.7
Nevada2,600,16730432412.5
New Hampshire1,315,80912813910.6
New Jersey8,682,6615555906.8
New Mexico1,984,35632436618.4
New York19,490,2971,1671,2316.3
North Carolina9,222,4141,3241,43315.5
North Dakota641,4819710416.2
Ohio11,485,9101,0981,19010.4
Oklahoma3,642,36167074920.6
Oregon3,790,06036941611.0
Pennsylvania12,448,2791,3581,46811.8
Rhode Island1,050,78863656.2
South Carolina4,479,80084092020.5
South Dakota804,19410711914.8
Tennessee6,214,8889501,03516.7
Texas24,326,9743,0313,38213.9
Utah2,736,42424427510.0
Vermont621,270667311.8
Virginia7,769,08976382410.6
Washington6,549,2244815218.0
West Virginia1,814,46833838020.9
Wisconsin5,627,96756160510.7
Wyoming532,66813915929.8
US total304,059,72434,01737,26112.3

Deaths by road user

In 2008, the types of motor vehicle crash deaths varied across states. For example, New Mexico had the lowest percentage of deaths involving car occupants (28 percent) and the highest percentage of deaths involving occupants of SUVs and pickups (40 percent). In contrast, New York had relatively high proportions of car occupant deaths (43 percent) and pedestrian deaths (24 percent), and a relatively low percentage of deaths involving SUV or pickup occupants (11 percent). The highest percentage of motorcyclist deaths occurred in New Hampshire (22 percent), and the percentage of pedestrian deaths was highest in the District of Columbia (26 percent).

Motor vehicle crash deaths by type and state, 2008
StateCar occupantsPickup and SUV occupantsLarge truck occupantsMotorcyclistsPedestriansTotal motor vehicle deaths*
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num
Alabama43845298312539810667966
Alaska27441524128133562
Arizona30032260281721371512013937
Arkansas23439205341836411458600
California1,366406291832154816620183,434
Colorado20337169311029517448548
Connecticut1244737142155213714264
Delaware473928230016132117121
District of Columbia1441000072192634
Florida1,047356592232153418490162,978
Georgia638434372931216911146101,493
Hawaii373520191123212019107
Idaho863783361152812115232
Illinois472452332210112912135131,043
Indiana399491682111111414547814
Iowa1954711027925112174412
Kansas1674313335624512195385
Kentucky37045224271929712678826
Louisiana355393043325378910612912
Maine78503221641812128155
Maryland25944951661821411620591
Massachusetts1754851142139117521363
Michigan4364422123611231311412980
Minnesota205459821926915266456
Mississippi3404325032132385506783
Missouri45247288301419910637960
Montana79348537523616115229
Nebraska994873355219952208
Nevada1023192280056175617324
New Hampshire6748282011302275139
New Jersey236408815122811413523590
New Mexico102281484012345123911366
New York53043135117118115294241,231
North Carolina687483332321114110160111,433
North Dakota3938373644121266104
Ohio5604722819192212189881,190
Oklahoma28538279372338411517749
Oregon17241116284148125112416
Pennsylvania69547309212522351613791,468
Rhode Island3351111700711121865
South Carolina40043248271821111210011920
South Dakota5345393311151398119
Tennessee4794629028162143146061,035
Texas1,173351,0503176251215416123,382
Utah1023776287334123212275
Vermont39532433117101173
Virginia41450191231728210769824
Washington24347107219278156312521
West Virginia1564113235515113133380
Wisconsin2984912020518714539605
Wyoming5937613885201374159
US total15,566429,3472561725,091144,3781237,261
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Crash types

Nationwide, 53 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2008 occurred in single-vehicle crashes. The highest proportions of single-vehicle crash deaths occurred in Rhode Island (66 percent) and South Carolina (64 percent).

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths by crash type and state, 2008
StateSingle-vehicleMultiple-vehicleAll crashes*
Num%Num%Num
Alabama4485930541753
Alaska1637276343
Arizona3175426846585
Arkansas2676017940447
California1,04051992492,035
Colorado1915118749378
Connecticut99616339163
Delaware3444445678
District of Columbia53696414
Florida86650866501,733
Georgia54750542501,089
Hawaii3154264657
Idaho105616739172
Illinois3715135149723
Indiana2734631554588
Iowa1454616854313
Kansas1615314247303
Kentucky3265427346599
Louisiana3715529945670
Maine57525348110
Maryland1624420456366
Massachusetts145638437229
Michigan3044536855672
Minnesota1384417556314
Mississippi4116324137652
Missouri4155533645751
Montana105636237167
Nebraska78459755175
Nevada98509649195
New Hampshire5153464797
New Jersey1705116249332
New Mexico158639437252
New York3405034150681
North Carolina57956455441,034
North Dakota4862293877
Ohio3954842051816
Oklahoma3005327047570
Oregon1725911941291
Pennsylvania51550507501,022
Rhode Island2966153444
South Carolina4236423436659
South Dakota5863343792
Tennessee4575932141778
Texas1,110491,147512,257
Utah97548246179
Vermont3251314963
Virginia3796123839617
Washington1755017550352
West Virginia1866310837295
Wisconsin2145021150425
Wyoming68565344121
US total13,4825311,9314725,428
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Alcohol involvement

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: 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 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 2008, BAC was reported for 70 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. Maine reported BACs for 95 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers, while Alaska reported BACs for 23 percent. Among states with reporting rates of at least 70 percent, Wyoming (50 percent) had the highest estimated percentage of fatally injured drivers with BACs of 0.08 percent or higher, and Vermont (22 percent) had the lowest.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BAC ≥ 0.08 percent by state, 2008
StateDrivers killed with known BAC resultsTotal drivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BAC ≥ 0.08
Num%NumNum%
Alabama36163573**
Alaska62326**
Arizona23667352**
Arkansas2778134410831
California1,251921,36146834
Colorado206782648833
Connecticut94761234537
Delaware3870542445
District of Columbia3339**
Florida787641,233**
Georgia44555809**
Hawaii4293452146
Idaho96811185042
Illinois4568851819137
Indiana2957042011327
Iowa5926223**
Kansas14264223**
Kentucky30870442**
Louisiana25354470**
Maine8495882630
Maryland218832647328
Massachusetts127731747543
Michigan31667473**
Minnesota196862286830
Mississippi12926500**
Missouri4237953618134
Montana97851145649
Nebraska103801293729
Nevada120881365440
New Hampshire6789752229
New Jersey194842307734
New Mexico131901465839
New York32868482**
North Carolina6338574526436
North Dakota4384512344
Ohio5469159918631
Oklahoma3609040212932
Oregon185912047537
Pennsylvania5967777326935
Rhode Island2670371644
South Carolina3597548123048
South Dakota5689632641
Tennessee14925598**
Texas896571,579**
Utah5848122**
Vermont338738822
Virginia21647457**
Washington2409126310239
West Virginia197892216530
Wisconsin2759030710635
Wyoming6278793950
US total12,8187018,2016,33235
*Cells with missing data have insufficient reporting of BAC results by state
or reliably estimating percent of fatally injured drivers with BAC ≥ 0.08 percent

Restraint use

When examining restraint use among fatally injured motor vehicle occupants, it is important to note that percentages will be lower than observed restraint use because unrestrained occupants are more likely than restrained occupants to be fatally injured. Restrained occupants include occupants in child safety seats and occupants restrained by safety belts.

The percentage of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants who were restrained in 2008 varied by state. Tennessee (15 percent) and West Virginia (15 percent) had the lowest percentages of fatally injured occupants who were restrained, and California had the highest (58 percent). The District of Columbia (29 percent) had the highest proportion of unknowns. For the nation, 42 percent of fatally injured occupants were restrained.

Number and percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants by restraint use and state, 2008
StateRestrainedUnrestrainedUnknownTotal
Num%Num%Num%Num
Alabama2723645360284753
Alaska194421493743
Arizona19725321556711585
Arkansas1423226760389447
California1,176587073515272,035
Colorado1863117346195378
Connecticut684270432515163
Delaware4051293791278
District of Columbia53653642914
Florida687401,004584221,733
Georgia4063757953104101,089
Hawaii254427475957
Idaho63271046053172
Illinois3243633947608723
Indiana26445264456010588
Iowa12741144464213313
Kansas962218661217303
Kentucky21427384641< 1599
Louisiana2132339659619670
Maine524746421211110
Maryland2025514339216366
Massachusetts6930120524017229
Michigan34651241368513672
Minnesota15339125403611314
Mississippi2203443266..652
Missouri2162948865476751
Montana46281177042167
Nebraska69399152159175
Nevada9640904695195
New Hampshire25267274..97
New Jersey160391655072332
New Mexico121481285131252
New York345512323410415681
North Carolina49848478465861,034
North Dakota182356733477
Ohio3324144354415816
Oklahoma1973533959346570
Oregon1674892323211291
Pennsylvania3383355955125121,022
Rhode Island112529664944
South Carolina2153341263325659
South Dakota283059645592
Tennessee2631545859577778
Texas1,118229584218182,257
Utah96547039137179
Vermont314927435863
Virginia2233637461203617
Washington1985612636288352
West Virginia9815157534014295
Wisconsin1613822453409425
Wyoming3529836932121
US total10,6714212,907511,850725,428

Rural versus urban

Sixty-two percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2008 occurred in rural areas. The states with the greatest proportion of passenger vehicle occupant deaths on rural roads were New Hampshire and South Carolina (96 percent).

Number and percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants by land use and state, 2008
StateUrbanRuralUnknownTotal
Num%Num%Num%Num
Alabama2313149766253753
Alaska92134790043
Arizona251433345700585
Arkansas100223477800447
California1,0855395047002,035
Colorado138372406300378
Connecticut12879352100163
Delaware212756721178
District of Columbia14100000014
Florida89652760447741,733
Georgia46142542508681,089
Hawaii193338670057
Idaho28161448400172
Illinois381533424700723
Indiana211363776400588
Iowa43142708600313
Kansas61202428000303
Kentucky105184948200599
Louisiana275413955900670
Maine871029300110
Maryland206561604400366
Massachusetts20690231000229
Michigan240364326400672
Minnesota85272297300314
Mississippi115185378200652
Missouri251335006700751
Montana1271559300167
Nebraska1591609100175
Nevada9850975000195
New Hampshire4493960097
New Jersey28285481421332
New Mexico51202018000252
New York273404086000681
North Carolina2752775973001,034
North Dakota7970910077
Ohio271335456700816
Oklahoma160284107200570
Oregon63222287800291
Pennsylvania4003962261001,022
Rhode Island2864112551144
South Carolina2546349600659
South Dakota6786930092
Tennessee295384836200778
Texas883391,314586032,257
Utah50281297200179
Vermont111752830063
Virginia21435402651< 1617
Washington135382136141352
West Virginia83282097131295
Wisconsin125293007100425
Wyoming15121068800121
US total9,3493715,81562264125,428

References