Fatality Facts 2017Older people

Overview

In 2016, motor vehicle crashes accounted for less than 1 percent of fatalities among people 70 and older. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2017. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2016 Unintentional Fatal Injury Data for 10 Leading Causes of Deaths, Ages 70 - 85+, All Races, Both Sexes. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcause.html.People ages 70 and older are less likely to be licensed to drive compared with younger people, and drivers 70 and older also drive fewer miles. However, older drivers are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past.

Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older. The increased fatal crash risk among older drivers is largely due to their increased susceptibility to injury, particularly chest injuries, and medical complications, rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes. Cicchino, J.B. 2015. Why have fatality rates among older drivers declined? The relative contributions of changes in survivability and crash involvement. Accident Analysis and Prevention 83:67-73.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Posted December 2018.

Population and mileage rates

In 2017, motor vehicle crash death rates per capita increased among males starting at ages 70-74 and among females gradually beginning at ages 65-69. Males had substantially higher death rates than females for ages 16 and older.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2017

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2017
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeaths*Rate
<16 33,267,990 755 2.3 31,868,122 578 1.8 65,136,112 1,333 2.0
16-19 8,701,682 1,576 18.1 8,315,418 762 9.2 17,017,100 2,340 13.8
20-24 11,349,142 2,983 26.3 10,769,493 1,088 10.1 22,118,635 4,072 18.4
25-29 11,902,230 2,838 23.8 11,468,230 930 8.1 23,370,460 3,770 16.1
30-34 11,089,131 2,237 20.2 10,883,081 737 6.8 21,972,212 2,975 13.5
35-39 10,615,985 2,000 18.8 10,616,012 669 6.3 21,231,997 2,669 12.6
40-44 9,753,115 1,718 17.6 9,890,258 668 6.8 19,643,373 2,387 12.2
45-49 10,386,175 1,848 17.8 10,587,683 701 6.6 20,973,858 2,551 12.2
50-54 10,520,182 2,050 19.5 10,880,912 722 6.6 21,401,094 2,772 13.0
55-59 10,700,520 2,171 20.3 11,307,436 733 6.5 22,007,956 2,907 13.2
60-64 9,557,283 1,785 18.7 10,430,419 647 6.2 19,987,702 2,434 12.2
65-69 7,929,868 1,237 15.6 8,906,513 573 6.4 16,836,381 1,810 10.8
70-74 5,947,272 974 16.4 6,899,793 490 7.1 12,847,065 1,464 11.4
75-79 3,898,816 811 20.8 4,842,445 510 10.5 8,741,261 1,321 15.1
80-84 2,509,059 640 25.5 3,456,231 400 11.6 5,965,290 1,040 17.4
≥85 2,279,669 686 30.1 4,189,013 463 11.1 6,468,682 1,149 17.8

In 2017, the rate of passenger vehicle driver fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled began to increase noticeably at ages 70-74. Drivers 85 and older had the highest rate of fatal crash involvement.Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2018. [Unpublished analysis of 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Household Travel Survey]. Arlington, VA.

Passenger vehicle fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled by driver age, 2017

Passenger vehicle fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled by driver age, 2017
AgeCrash involvementsMilesRate
16-19 2,928 62,410,423,548 4.7
20-24 5,303 172,158,820,127 3.1
25-29 4,925 213,487,256,997 2.3
30-34 3,938 228,055,122,817 1.7
35-39 3,473 235,513,924,779 1.5
40-44 2,847 221,981,057,921 1.3
45-49 2,992 211,720,351,245 1.4
50-54 2,837 229,997,362,385 1.2
55-59 2,843 216,227,224,007 1.3
60-64 2,390 195,073,278,082 1.2
65-69 1,866 149,557,419,942 1.2
70-74 1,545 87,458,953,733 1.8
75-79 1,183 51,982,073,748 2.3
80-84 881 20,669,598,896 4.3
≥85 863 11,313,581,400 7.6
Total* 40,853 2,307,606,449,627 1.8

Crash types

Among passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017, the proportion in multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections increased steadily starting at ages 65-69. Multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections accounted for 40 percent of fatal crash involvements among drivers 80 and older, compared with 20 percent for drivers ages 16-59.

Passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes by age and crash type, 2017
AgeMultiple-vehicle intersection crashesOther multiple-vehicle crashes Single-vehicle intersection crashes Other single-vehicle crashes All crashes*
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
16-19 667 23 1,013 35 138 5 1,113 38 2,931 100
20-24 1,003 19 2,104 40 245 5 1,963 37 5,315 100
25-29 970 20 1,987 40 266 5 1,722 35 4,945 100
30-34 845 21 1,671 42 198 5 1,254 32 3,968 100
35-39 691 20 1,464 42 199 6 1,140 33 3,494 100
40-44 597 21 1,268 44 120 4 872 31 2,857 100
45-49 592 20 1,323 44 169 6 924 31 3,008 100
50-54 591 21 1,232 43 149 5 870 31 2,842 100
55-59 638 22 1,187 42 148 5 875 31 2,848 100
60-64 524 22 1,020 43 127 5 727 30 2,398 100
65-69 468 25 798 43 97 5 505 27 1,868 100
70-74 451 29 586 38 81 5 431 28 1,549 100
75-79 376 32 428 36 63 5 316 27 1,183 100
80-84 332 38 291 33 52 6 206 23 881 100
≥85 372 43 271 31 47 5 173 20 863 100

Pedestrians

The rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population in 2017 was highest for people ages 80-84. For all age groups the rate of pedestrian deaths per capita was higher for males than females.

Pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2017
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeaths*Rate
<13 26,944,870 101 0.4 25,794,062 69 0.3 52,738,932 170 0.3
13-15 6,323,120 47 0.7 6,074,060 29 0.5 12,397,180 76 0.6
16-19 8,701,682 139 1.6 8,315,418 70 0.8 17,017,100 209 1.2
20-24 11,349,142 294 2.6 10,769,493 95 0.9 22,118,635 389 1.8
25-29 11,902,230 338 2.8 11,468,230 128 1.1 23,370,460 468 2.0
30-34 11,089,131 314 2.8 10,883,081 108 1.0 21,972,212 422 1.9
35-39 10,615,985 295 2.8 10,616,012 143 1.3 21,231,997 438 2.1
40-44 9,753,115 287 2.9 9,890,258 115 1.2 19,643,373 402 2.0
45-49 10,386,175 326 3.1 10,587,683 149 1.4 20,973,858 476 2.3
50-54 10,520,182 422 4.0 10,880,912 150 1.4 21,401,094 572 2.7
55-59 10,700,520 455 4.3 11,307,436 162 1.4 22,007,956 618 2.8
60-64 9,557,283 364 3.8 10,430,419 133 1.3 19,987,702 498 2.5
65-69 7,929,868 232 2.9 8,906,513 127 1.4 16,836,381 359 2.1
70-74 5,947,272 162 2.7 6,899,793 76 1.1 12,847,065 238 1.9
75-79 3,898,816 144 3.7 4,842,445 93 1.9 8,741,261 237 2.7
80-84 2,509,059 111 4.4 3,456,231 60 1.7 5,965,290 171 2.9
≥85 2,279,669 107 4.7 4,189,013 53 1.3 6,468,682 160 2.5

Alcohol

Eight percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers 70 years and older in 2017 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent, compared with 18 percent for drivers ages 60-69 and 35 percent for drivers ages 16-59.

Fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BAC ≥ 0.08 percent by age, 2017
AgeDrivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BACs ≥ 0.08
NumberNumber%
16-59 years 12,818 4,475 35
60-69 years 2,020 361 18
≥70 years 2,774 219 8