Fatality Facts 2016Collisions with fixed objects and animals

Collisions with fixed objects and animals

About 20 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths result from a vehicle leaving the roadway and hitting a fixed object alongside the road. Trees, utility poles, and traffic barriers are the most common objects struck. Almost half of the deaths in fixed object crashes occur at night. Alcohol is a frequent contributing factor. Motorists also run off the road because of excessive speeds, falling asleep, inattention or poor visibility. Efforts to reduce these driver errors are only somewhat effective, so it's important to remove fixed objects or avoid putting them along roads in the first place if feasible, especially on roads where vehicles are more likely to leave the pavement. Less preferred options include using breakaway objects, shielding objects and increasing the visibility of objects.

Although far fewer deaths occur in collisions with animals, their numbers have increased since 1975. In 2016 these deaths occurred most frequently during July-September.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The information is based on fatal crashes in which the most harmful event coded 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. Information on the most harmful event became available in FARS in 1979. The information on collisions with animals is based on fatal crashes in which the first harmful event coded was a collision with an animal. Many of these collisions involve secondary impacts that are more severe, such as colliding with another vehicle or a tree. Information on the first harmful event has been available since FARS was established in 1975.

Posted December 2017.

Alcohol

Thirty-nine percent of drivers killed in fixed-object crashes in 2016 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. By comparison, 23 percent of drivers killed in other types of fatal crashes had BACs this high. The percentage of drivers killed in fixed-object crashes with BACs at or above 0.08 percent declined from 66 percent in 1982 to 39 percent in 2016, a reduction of 41 percent.

Percent of fatally injured drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by crash type, 1982-2016

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by crash type, 1982-2016
Year Fixed object crashes Other crashes All crashes
Driver deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Driver deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Driver deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08
Number Number % Number Number % Number Number %
1982 6,089 3,991 66 18,601 8,148 44 24,690 12,139 49
1983 6,074 3,925 65 18,064 7,618 42 24,138 11,543 48
1984 6,496 4,027 62 19,093 7,472 39 25,589 11,499 45
1985 6,927 4,078 59 18,410 6,608 36 25,337 10,685 42
1986 7,121 4,209 59 19,509 7,201 37 26,630 11,409 43
1987 6,974 3,965 57 19,859 7,093 36 26,833 11,058 41
1988 7,239 3,987 55 20,014 7,116 36 27,253 11,103 41
1989 6,962 3,926 56 19,427 6,711 35 26,389 10,637 40
1990 6,786 3,897 57 18,964 6,498 34 25,750 10,395 40
1991 6,398 3,538 55 17,532 5,947 34 23,930 9,485 40
1992 5,979 3,151 53 16,605 5,301 32 22,584 8,452 37
1993 5,957 3,079 52 17,185 5,243 31 23,142 8,322 36
1994 5,943 2,885 49 17,748 5,028 28 23,691 7,913 33
1995 6,197 3,018 49 18,193 5,289 29 24,390 8,307 34
1996 6,077 2,917 48 18,457 5,258 28 24,534 8,175 33
1997 6,081 2,881 47 18,586 4,962 27 24,667 7,843 32
1998 6,280 2,964 47 18,463 4,870 26 24,743 7,834 32
1999 6,249 2,908 47 19,008 5,010 26 25,257 7,918 31
2000 6,595 3,080 47 18,972 5,086 27 25,567 8,166 32
2001 6,685 3,050 46 19,184 5,203 27 25,869 8,252 32
2002 7,218 3,292 46 19,441 5,224 27 26,659 8,515 32
2003 7,083 3,163 45 19,696 5,191 26 26,779 8,354 31
2004 6,987 3,083 44 19,884 5,072 26 26,871 8,155 30
2005 7,033 3,096 44 20,458 5,393 26 27,491 8,489 31
2006 7,273 3,190 44 20,075 5,388 27 27,348 8,578 31
2007 7,202 3,293 46 19,368 5,324 27 26,570 8,617 32
2008 6,955 3,128 45 17,299 4,833 28 24,254 7,961 33
2009 6,242 2,773 44 15,593 4,440 28 21,835 7,213 33
2010 5,925 2,599 44 15,147 3,980 26 21,072 6,579 31
2011 5,897 2,566 44 14,918 3,959 27 20,815 6,524 31
2012 6,163 2,634 43 15,327 4,100 27 21,490 6,735 31
2013 6,052 2,655 44 14,892 3,893 26 20,944 6,548 31
2014 6,044 2,603 43 14,744 3,783 26 20,788 6,387 31
2015 6,162 2,501 41 16,186 3,875 24 22,348 6,376 29
2016 6,457 2,490 39 17,103 3,989 23 23,560 6,478 27

Age and gender

Twenty-seven percent of drivers killed in fixed-object crashes in 2016 were males younger than 30. Overall, males accounted for 81 percent of drivers killed in these crashes.

Driver deaths in fixed-object crashes by age and gender, 2016
Age Male Female *Total
Number % Number % Number %
<16 19 <1 4 <1 23 <1
16-19 335 5 119 2 455 7
20-24 734 11 176 3 910 14
25-29 652 10 130 2 782 12
30-34 477 7 116 2 593 9
35-39 437 7 80 1 517 8
40-44 389 6 80 1 469 7
45-49 372 6 84 1 456 7
50-54 374 6 93 1 467 7
55-59 378 6 70 1 449 7
60-64 332 5 56 1 388 6
65-69 261 4 63 1 324 5
≥70 484 7 134 2 618 10
Total* 5,248 81 1,206 19 6,457 100

Crash types

Ninety-five percent of fixed-object crash deaths in 2016 occurred in single-vehicle crashes.

Deaths in fixed-object crashes by crash type, 2016
Crash type Deaths %
Single-vehicle crashes 7,601 95
Multiple-vehicle crashes 363 5
All crashes 7,964 100

Eighteen percent of deaths in fixed-object crashes in 2016 involved vehicles rolling over.

Deaths in fixed-object crashes by rollover occurrence and object struck, 2016
Object struck Rollover No rollover All crashes
Number % Number % Number %
Culvert 82 32 174 68 256 100
Embankment 123 30 289 70 412 100
Ditch 77 28 198 72 275 100
Bridge rail 13 19 56 81 69 100
Boulder 12 20 49 80 61 100
Utility pole 154 17 743 83 897 100
Tree 670 18 3,131 82 3,801 100
Wall 22 19 95 81 117 100
Bridge pier 29 17 147 84 176 100
Concrete traffic barrier 39 14 224 85 263 100
Fence 22 14 140 86 162 100
Guardrail 48 13 311 87 359 100
Other post/pole 11 11 91 89 102 100
Building 13 9 133 91 146 100
Curb 15 7 205 93 220 100
Other 123 19 525 81 648 100
Total 1,453 18 6,511 82 7,964 100

Seventeen percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in fixed-object crashes in 2016 involved ejection; 12 percent of the occupants killed were fully ejected, and 5 percent were partially ejected.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in fixed-object crashes by occupant ejection status, 2016
Ejection status Deaths %
Not ejected 5,253 81
Fully ejected 788 12
Partially ejected 354 5
Total* 6,452 100

When and where crashes occur

Sixteen percent of deaths in fixed-object crashes in 2016 occurred on interstates and freeways, 52 percent occurred on other major roads, and 27 percent occurred on minor roads.

Deaths in fixed-object crashes by road type, 2016
Road type Deaths %
Interstates and freeways 1,298 16
Other major roads 4,163 52
Minor roads 2,189 27
Unknown 314 4
All road types 7,964 100

Fifty-four percent of deaths in fixed-object crashes in 2016 occurred on rural roads.

Deaths in fixed-object crashes by land use, 2016
Land use Deaths %
Rural 4,289 54
Urban 3,386 43
Unknown 289 4
Total 7,964 100

Forty-six percent of deaths in fixed-object crashes in 2016 occurred on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher.

Deaths in fixed-object crashes by speed limit, 2016
Speed limit Deaths %
≤35 mph 1,960 25
40-50 mph 2,124 27
55+ mph 3,672 46
Total* 7,964 100

Forty-four percent of deaths in fixed-object crashes in 2016 occurred at night (9 p.m.-6 a.m.), with the highest proportions occurring between midnight and 3 a.m. (18 percent) and between 9 p.m. and midnight (14 percent).

Deaths in fixed-object crashes by time of day, 2016
Hour of day Deaths %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 1,409 18
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 909 11
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 663 8
9 a.m. - noon 677 9
Noon - 3 p.m. 958 12
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 1,040 13
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 1,055 13
9 p.m. - midnight 1,151 14
Total* 7,964 100

Collisions with animals

From 1975 to the mid-2000s there was a general upward trend in deaths from collisions with animals, but this trend has leveled off in the past few years. These deaths increased from 89 in 1975 to 223 in 2007 and then declined to 189 in 2016. In 2016, deaths in collisions with animals occurred most often during July-September.

Motor vehicle crash deaths involving collisions with animals, 1975-2016

Motor vehicle crash deaths in collisions with animals by quarter of the year, 1975-2016
Year Months Total
Jan-Mar Apr-Jun Jul-Sep Oct-Dec
1975 14 15 28 32 89
1976 15 25 34 25 99
1977 13 15 27 24 79
1978 7 19 34 20 80
1979 16 21 30 35 102
1980 14 22 33 25 94
1981 14 19 43 29 105
1982 10 18 27 27 82
1983 11 28 32 24 95
1984 11 25 33 23 92
1985 12 24 44 24 104
1986 21 29 26 35 111
1987 15 30 35 31 111
1988 14 23 44 37 118
1989 20 33 42 36 131
1990 14 17 39 36 106
1991 23 34 31 34 122
1992 20 27 34 39 120
1993 16 22 27 36 101
1994 20 41 27 43 131
1995 17 29 36 41 123
1996 14 59 38 42 153
1997 17 35 39 45 136
1998 17 36 59 53 165
1999 18 35 46 53 152
2000 29 30 45 46 150
2001 24 51 43 59 177
2002 21 42 57 50 170
2003 23 57 72 60 212
2004 26 55 62 61 204
2005 18 47 57 58 180
2006 26 67 63 66 222
2007 15 64 82 62 223
2008 25 58 70 57 210
2009 24 52 67 41 184
2010 20 62 87 44 213
2011 19 44 71 65 199
2012 20 50 62 44 176
2013 15 54 74 49 192
2014 18 50 60 38 166
2015 15 47 59 68 189
2016 20 55 58 56 189
Over the past 10 years, Texas and Wisconsin had the highest numbers of deaths from collisions with animals. The numbers reflect the size of driving population, animal population and percentage of rural roads.
Motor vehicle crash deaths in collisions with animals by state, 2007-2016
State Year Total
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Alabama 2 5 1 3 2 5 1 9 2 3 33
Alaska 6 0 1 1 0 4 3 0 3 0 18
Arizona 5 2 6 1 2 4 2 0 3 1 26
Arkansas 1 4 2 4 4 3 3 4 4 7 36
California 4 8 4 9 6 4 4 4 2 5 50
Colorado 3 5 5 6 3 2 7 6 7 4 48
Connecticut 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 4
Delaware 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 4
Florida 4 5 6 8 6 5 6 1 4 4 49
Georgia 8 9 3 9 8 3 2 5 5 4 56
Hawaii 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 4
Idaho 1 5 3 1 5 3 3 1 2 1 25
Illinois 5 2 6 13 7 4 5 4 8 7 61
Indiana 4 3 4 5 13 9 3 2 5 5 53
Iowa 11 8 9 4 1 2 4 3 0 2 44
Kansas 8 7 6 4 2 4 7 2 4 7 51
Kentucky 4 5 2 4 5 0 3 4 4 4 35
Louisiana 3 0 1 5 2 1 3 2 0 1 18
Maine 5 0 2 3 1 2 0 3 4 2 22
Maryland 2 1 1 0 2 4 4 0 1 1 16
Massachusetts 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 7
Michigan 11 13 9 14 7 6 9 8 7 15 99
Minnesota 7 12 3 8 5 8 8 3 8 3 65
Mississippi 5 2 4 3 0 1 1 3 5 3 27
Missouri 5 3 4 3 7 5 2 3 4 6 42
Montana 6 6 5 4 4 3 10 1 4 6 49
Nebraska 1 6 3 2 4 3 2 1 4 1 27
Nevada 2 1 0 0 0 2 2 1 1 1 10
New Hampshire 1 1 3 1 1 1 0 0 4 0 12
New Jersey 0 1 0 1 1 1 3 3 2 1 13
New Mexico 1 4 2 3 4 1 4 2 2 6 29
New York 5 3 2 9 7 3 4 4 9 4 50
North Carolina 9 5 3 7 8 5 4 2 8 5 56
North Dakota 2 2 1 1 0 1 1 4 1 1 14
Ohio 10 8 6 4 7 8 8 4 4 6 65
Oklahoma 6 3 6 3 5 2 3 6 8 4 46
Oregon 4 2 1 2 2 4 1 2 2 0 20
Pennsylvania 9 12 5 9 10 7 15 10 8 13 98
Rhode Island 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
South Carolina 4 3 5 3 8 5 5 8 7 4 52
South Dakota 3 2 6 4 3 2 2 1 0 3 26
Tennessee 6 2 5 3 3 7 8 4 2 2 42
Texas 17 12 20 18 21 15 18 25 22 19 187
Utah 4 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 19
Vermont 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 8
Virginia 4 3 4 3 8 4 4 3 1 3 37
Washington 2 6 5 4 0 2 3 2 1 3 28
West Virginia 2 2 2 0 0 1 2 2 3 3 17
Wisconsin 15 16 8 16 12 16 7 13 7 13 123
Wyoming 1 1 4 2 1 2 1 0 3 2 17
U.S. Total 223 210 184 213 199 176 192 166 189 189 1941