Understanding Fatal Traffic Accident Statistics

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Understanding Fatal Traffic Accident Statistics - Rafii Law

The most common cause of death of teenagers and younger adults is a vehicle accident. Over the past few years, fatalities in vehicle crashes have been declining, but there were still 39,404 fatalities in 2018.

Simply stating the overall number of deaths doesn’t provide a good picture of what is actually happening out there on the roads. For example, a graph of the number of deaths by year suggests that vehicle travel was much safer in the 1920s than now, but that doesn’t take into account that there were far fewer people traveling by motor vehicle in the 1920s. Instead, fatal traffic events should be standardized against how many people there are, how many cars there are, and how many miles were traversed by people in cars. For 2018, there were:

  • 39,404 deaths
  • 1.22 deaths per 100 million miles traveled
  • 1.42 deaths per 10,00 registered vehicles
  • 12.04 deaths per 100,000 people

In comparison to 2017, in 2018:

  • The death rate by mileage decreased by 2.4%
  • The death rate per vehicle decreased by 4.1%
  • The death rate by population decreased by 2.5%

By Age Group

The majority of deaths in vehicle accidents occur in adults aged 25 to 64, most likely because they travel the most miles per year in vehicles.

Young people (under age 24) have the highest rate of fatalities caused by a car striking a solid object like a telephone pole or tree. The 75 and older group has the highest rate of being killed in a vehicle-pedestrian accident. In addition, the only age groups in which there are deaths due to a train striking a vehicle are young people (under age 24) and those 75 and older.

Young drivers (teenagers) are disproportionately represented among fatal crashes, while older drivers (75 or older) are disproportionately under-represented among deadly crashes.

Types of Crashes

Although the vast majority of car accidents involve vehicle-to-vehicle collisions, a higher percentage of crashes involving vehicles striking fixed objects or hitting pedestrians are associated with fatalities.

Time of Day and Year

Although accidents in general are more common during the week, fatal car crashes are more common on weekends, particularly in the evenings. There are also more fatal crashes in the late summer and early fall.

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fatal accident stats - an infographic showing details of 2018 accidents