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).
There were 30,057 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2013 in which 32,719 deaths occurred. This resulted in national motor vehicle crash death rates of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.11 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The fatality rate per 100,000 people ranged from a low of 3.1 in the District of Columbia to a high of 22.6 in Montana. The death rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled ranged from 0.56 in the District of Columbia to 1.96 in Montana.
In 2013, the types of motor vehicle crash deaths varied across states. For example, North Dakota had one of the lowest percentages of deaths involving car occupants (28 percent) and the highest percentage of deaths involving occupants of SUVs and pickups (52 percent). In contrast, New Jersey had relatively high proportions of car occupant deaths (44 percent) and pedestrian deaths (24 percent), and a relatively low percentage of deaths involving SUV or pickup occupants (15 percent). The highest percentage of motorcyclist deaths occurred in Delaware (20 percent) and the percentage of pedestrian deaths was highest in the District of Columbia (45 percent).
Nationwide, 57 percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2013 occurred in single-vehicle crashes. The largest proportion of deaths in single-vehicle crashes occurred in Hawaii and Montana (69 percent), whereas the smallest proportion occurred in North Dakota (46 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 imputed 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 2013, BAC was reported for 72 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. West Virginia reported BACs for 95 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers, while Mississippi reported BACs for 42 percent. Thirty-five states had BAC reporting rates of at least 70 percent. South Carolina had the highest estimated percentage of fatally injured drivers with BACs of 0.08 percent or higher (47 percent), and both Minnesota and West Virginia had the lowest (24 percent).
Based on daytime observational surveys conducted by the states, the rate of safety belt use among front seat passenger vehicle occupants in 2013 ranged from 73 percent in New Hampshire to 98 percent in Oregon.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2014. Seat belt use in 2013 — use rates in the states and territories. Report no. DOT HS-812-030. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.
When examining restraint use among fatally injured motor vehicle occupants in all seating positions, 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 in a crash. Restrained fatally injured occupants include occupants in child safety seats and occupants restrained by safety belts. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia had at least 50 percent restraint use among fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants (Alaska, California, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington).
Nationwide, 54 percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2013 occurred in rural areas. The percentage of motor vehicle deaths on rural roads was 98 percent in Montana, 97 percent in Maine, and 92 percent in North Dakota compared with 15 percent in Massachusetts and New Jersey, 8 percent in Rhode Island, 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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