Where you drive affects the risks you face.
About 20 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths result from a vehicle leaving the roadway and hitting a fixed object such as a tree or utility pole alongside the road. Almost all such crashes involve only one vehicle. Fixed object crashes occur in both urban and rural areas but are mostly a problem on rural roads. Sixteen percent of fixed object crashes involve a vehicle that rolls over, and 18 percent involve occupant ejection. Trees are by far the most common objects struck, accounting for half of all fixed object crashes.
Alcohol is a frequent contributing factor in these crashes. Motorists also run off the road because of excessive speed, falling asleep, or inattention. Efforts to reduce these driver errors are only somewhat effective, so it's important to shield or remove fixed objects or avoid putting them along roads in the first place, especially roads where vehicles are more likely to leave the pavement.
The information in this fact sheet is based on fatal crashes in which the most harmful event coded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was a collision with a fixed object, regardless of whether the first harmful event also was a collision with a fixed object, or was instead another type of crash, such as a collision between two motor vehicles, that in turn led to a collision with a fixed object.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Forty-four percent of drivers killed in fixed object crashes in 2005 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. By comparison 27 percent of drivers in other types of fatal crashes had BACs this high. The proportion of drivers killed in fixed object crashes with BACs at or above 0.08 percent declined substantially since 1982, when 66 percent of these drivers had BACs this high.
Percent of fatally injured drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by crash type, 1982-2005
A total of 9,057 people died in fixed object crashes in 2005, 1 percent fewer than in 2004 and 14 percent fewer than in 1979. The proportion of motor vehicle crash deaths involving fixed objects has remained between 19 and 22 percent since 1979.
Trees are the most common fixed object struck. Fifty percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 involved a vehicle striking a tree. Utility poles and embankments were the next most common objects struck, accounting for 14 and 6 percent of deaths, respectively.
Percent distribution of fixed object crash deaths by object struck, 2005
Forty-two percent of drivers killed in fixed object crashes in 2005 were males younger than 35. Overall males accounted for 81 percent of all drivers killed in fixed object crashes in 2005.
Ninety-five percent of fixed object crash deaths in 2005 occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
Sixteen percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 involved vehicles rolling over.
Eighteen percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 involved occupant ejection; 13 percent of the occupants killed were fully ejected, and 5 percent were partially ejected.
Sixty-two percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 occurred in frontal impacts.
Fifteen percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 occurred on interstates and freeways, 45 percent occurred on other major roads and 35 percent occurred on minor roads.
Fifty-five percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 occurred on rural roads.
Twelve percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 occurred at junctions including intersections, interchanges, rail grade crossings, and junctions of streets with driveways and alleys. In urban areas the proportion of deaths in fixed object crashes that occurred at junctions was 20 percent, compared with 7 percent in rural areas.
Forty-five percent of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 occurred on roads with speed limits 55 mph or higher.
About half of deaths in fixed object crashes in 2005 occurred at night (9pm–6am). The highest proportion of fixed object crashes occurred between midnight and 3am.
©1996-2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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