Crash & Casualty Statistics


for the USA


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     Key Annual Statistics for the USA    







Total Road Deaths in the USA





Fatalities per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled (the 'VMT rate')





Fatalities per 100,000 Population (the 'per capita' rate)





Fatalities per 10,000 Registered Vehicles





Source:  FARS  (per their figures as at November 13, 2005)


 DSA Comment  The most saddening and reprehensible aspect of these figures is the failure of the relevant governmental bodies to significantly reduce the overall number of deaths, year-on-year.

     Most developed nations have made vastly greater reductions and -- in addition -- have targets to further cut their respective, overall road-death tolls by either 40 percent or 50 percent, by either 2010 or 2012 (with these variables depending on the specific countries).

     The USA, however, only has a goal to reduce the VMT rate to 1.00 by 2008 (as confirmed by the US DOT in 2004), yet from the above figures alone, two startling facts emerge:

--   the achievement of this goal seems remarkably unlikely

--   even when the VMT rate stays level or reduces, it is quite possible for the total number of actual road deaths to increase (see 2001-02, and 2001-03, above). As a result of this it is clear that a mere reduction in the VMT rate is an inadequate and even negligently lethal goal for such a progressive and otherwise immensely successful nation.

Comparative per capita rates for over 50 countries may be viewed here.





August 2005:  2004 Traffic safety Annual Assessment -- Early Results 

(See the editorial opinion from DSA: America's Highway Safety targets and Achievements are far Too Low)



July 2005:  Vehicle Fires in the USA

In 2004, public fire departments responded to... 266,500 highway vehicle fires, down 6.8 percent from 2003.

Full story, from Homeland Response



June 2005:  Analysis of Fatal Crashes Due to Signal and Stop Sign Violations

The 1999 and 2000 Fatality Analysis Reporting System databases were analyzed to gain a better understanding of fatal crashes involving light vehicles that violated traffic signals or stop signs. A total of 9,951 vehicles were involved in fatal crashes at traffic signals in 1999 and 2000 20% of these vehicles failed to obey the signal and 13% failed to yield the right-of-way. On the other hand, 13,627 vehicles were involved in fatal crashes at stop signs - 21% failed to obey the sign and 23% failed to yield the right-of-way. Fatal crashes involving light vehicles (passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks) that violated the traffic signal or the stop sign were separated into single vehicle, two-vehicle, and multi-vehicle crash categories. For each crash category, this report identified the crash scenarios, described the crash contributing factors, and characterized the infrastructure where these fatal crashes happened in 1999 and 2000. No major difference was found between the crash categories regarding the infrastructure where these fatal crashes occurred. Single vehicle crashes were almost three times as likely to involve alcohol than two-vehicle or multi-vehicle crashes. Furthermore, single vehicle crashes had the highest rate of speeding and inattention. Two-vehicle crashes had the second highest involvement rate of inattention and multi-vehicle had the second highest rate of speeding.



December 2004: Red Light Crashes and Casualties in the USA

     Nationally, between 1992 and 2000, fatal crashes at traffic signals increased 19 percent, outpacing the rise in all other fatal crashes. According to the Federal Highway Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, each year red-light running causes as many as 218,000 crashes that result in over 800 deaths and 180,000 injuries....

Full story, from the Tallahassee Democrat




December 2004:  Nationally, in 2003, there were 42,643 fatalities. Of these, 25,136 were a result of road departure, 9,213 intersection-related, and 4,749 were pedestrians.

[Source: the Updated Safety Website of the FHWA]




December 2004:  A 2004 Summary of Statistics, from MADD




September 21, 2004:  More than 2500 children under 15 were killed in auto accidents [in the USA] in 2003...  [Source: Nissan / PR Newswire]




September 20, 2004:  Just How Dangerous is Playing [American] Football?

                               [And Just How Dangerous is Driving? -- DSA addendum]

     ...22 deaths in the United States [are known] to have occurred as a direct result of a football injury [through the years 2000-2004].

     And inevitably, such tragedies raise questions. Are the risks inherent in playing football worth it? Is there anything that can be done to make the sport safer? Just how dangerous is football, anyway?

     "It's probably safer than kids getting in a car and driving on the highway," said Dr. Frederick Mueller, who heads the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina.

     Statistically, anyway, there's no comparison.

     According to numbers compiled by Mueller's center, the death rate for football players at the high-school level last year was 0.13 per 100,000 (there were no deaths last year in college football).

     The death rate for male drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, meanwhile, is 48.2 per 100,000, according to numbers published in 2001 by the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Full story, from the Miami Herald


 DSA Comment  The per capita death rate for all Americans, of any age, in 2003 was 14.9 per 100,000. The rate for young males in the above age group is therefore 3.2 times greater than for the average person.




August 14, 2004:  The Missing Perspective on Road Safety in the USA

     For whatever reason, official bodies in America tend to publish only VMT death rates whereas the most commonly used method in many other countries is the per capita rate.

     Following on from our Alternative but Disturbing Measurement article (for 2002 data) we have now generated the figures for 2003 data and also shown the state-by-state results in the same table as the results from 29 other countries.

     Sadly, but predictably, America's results fall a long way short of the upbeat descriptions which some people believe should be applied to the state of road safety in the USA. See the full results here.




August 10, 2004:  Number of Persons Killed in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes, by State, 2002-2003



June 1, 2004:  Safety Belts and Rural Communities -- 2003 Report

     Rural Americans face greater risk of being injured or killed in a traffic crash than those who live and commute in urban areas. 

     Only 21 percent of the population live in rural areas in this country, yet 39.5% of the total vehicle miles traveled are on rural roads. 

     In 2002, rural traffic crashes accounted for 60 percent of the total fatalities on our Nation's highways.1 A combination of known factors is responsible, including some that are unique to rural areas. For instance, rural crashes often occur in isolated areas, causing a delay in the time of discovery and in the delivery of emergency services to the victims.

     Other prominent factors contributing to the high fatal crash and fatality rates include: alcohol involvement, high-speed crashes, low safety belt use, vehicle rollovers, and ejections.

     [Two key points:

  • In 2002, 25,849 people died in motor vehicle crashes in rural areas

  • The motor vehicle fatality rate in rural areas is more than double the fatality rate in urban areas.] 

Full report (DOT HS 809 731) from the NHTSA



April 2004: The NHTSA has released Preliminary Estimates of Highway Fatalities in the USA, for 2003  

There is also a brief summary, in a Press Release.

(This issue is also listed on the DSA international  'Road Safety In The News'  web page, under April 29, 2004)


February 2004:  International Road Crash Fatality Rates for the ten-year period, 1992-2001, show that the USA made the least progress, of any of the thirty countries listed, towards reducing the per-capita rate of road deaths -- click here to view the full table  



January 2004: Highway Safety in the USA -- an Alternative but Disturbing Measurement  




Highway Fatality Statistics in the USA, 2002



Traffic Safety Facts -- 2002 (early edition -- .pdf file)



One of the most horrifying of all road accident statistics in the USA is: 

The Number of 15-20 Year-Olds Killed in Automobile Crashes Each Year



In the century from 1900 through 1999, a total  of 4067 U.S. law enforcement officers were killed on duty in automobile crashes or motorcycle crashes, or through being struck by a motor vehicle. This represents about 30 percent of all officers killed during that time.

Source:  National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial as cited by the Indiana Police Officer Memorial


The total number of deaths for the same three categories, for each of the years 2000 through 2002 were as follows:



(representing 48% of all deaths of officers on duty)



(representing 32% of all deaths, including 9-11, and 46%, excluding 9-11)



(representing 43% of all deaths of officers on duty)

Source:  National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial



State-by-State Traffic Crash Statistics for 2001



Summarized crash statistics for large trucks and buses involved in fatal and non-fatal crashes in the United States [from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS)]



New York State Traffic Safety Data (dated February 2004)




South Carolina Highway Safety Funding Guidelines, 2005 (containing key statistics for the state)