Highway Safety in the USA --

 

an Alternative and 

 

Disturbing Measurement

 

 

All contents copyright , Drive and Stay Alive, Inc., 2003 onwards, unless specified otherwise. All rights reserved.

 

IMPORTANT: click here to read the DISCLAIMER


 

When compared with other highly-motorized countries, the USA does badly in terms of highway safety. If this is taken one stage further and individual American states are compared with those same international standards, things start to look even worse. No less than eleven U.S. states have worse road-death rates, per head of population, than the worst country in the international listings.

 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) operates the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) which lists road-crash casualty statistics from thirty member-countries, including the USA.

 

The key parameter by which fatality figures are compared, in the IRTAD, is "deaths per 100,000 population" yet this measurement is rarely seen in U.S. statistics. The staff at Drive and Stay Alive have therefore taken publicly available highway-fatality data and applied this approach. The results are shown below, from which it will be seen that several American states have particularly shocking death rates. 

 

 

Highway Deaths in US States, as a Proportion of Population (2002)

 

Ranking

State

Population (millions)1

Fatalities

(2002)2

Rate

(2002)3

  1

Massachusetts

    6.4

    459

    7.17

  2

Rhode Island

    1.08

      84

    7.77

  3

New York

  19.2

  1522

    7.93

  4

District of Columbia

    0.56

      47

    8.4

  5

New Jersey

    8.64

    773

    8.95

  6

Connecticut

    3.5

    322

    9.2

  7

Hawaii

    1.26

    119

    9.4

  8

New Hampshire

    1.29

    127

    9.84

  9

Washington

    6.1

    659

  10.8

10

Illinois

  12.65

  1411

  11.15

11

California

  35.5

  40784

  11.49

12

Michigan

  10.08

  1277

  11.73

13

Maryland

    5.5

    659

  11.98

14

Oregon

    3.56

    436

  12.25

15

Virginia

    7.39

    914

  12.37

16

Ohio

  11.44

  1418

  12.4

17

Alaska

    0.65

      87

  12.43

18

Indiana

    6.2

    792

  12.77

19

Minnesota

    5.06

    657

  12.98

20

Vermont

    0.6

      78

  13.0

21

Pennsylvania

  12.37

  1614

  13.05

22

Iowa

    2.94

    404

  13.74

23

Utah

    2.35

    328

  13.96

24

Wisconsin

    5.47

    803

  14.68

---

USA Overall (IRTAD)

284.85

42815

  14.86

25

North Dakota

    0.63

      97

15.4

26

Delaware

    0.8

    124

15.5

27

Colorado

    4.56

    742

16.1

28

Maine

    1.3

    216

16.62

29

Texas

  22.1

  3725

16.86

30

Nevada

    2.24

    381

17.01

31

Georgia

    8.7

  1523

17.5

32

Nebraska

    1.74

    307

17.64

33

Florida

  17.0

  3132

18.4

34

North Carolina

    8.4

  1575

18.75

35

Kansas

    2.7

    512

18.96

36

Idaho

    1.37

    264

19.27

37

Louisiana

    4.5

    875

19.44

38

Arizona

    5.6

  1117

19.9

39

Tennessee

    5.8

  1175

20.26

40

Oklahoma

    3.5

    734

20.97

 

Portugal (the IRTAD country with the worst death rate)

    9.49

 

21.0

41

Missouri

    5.7

  1208

21.19

42

Kentucky

    4.1

    915

22.32

43

Alabama

    4.6

  1033

22.46

44

South Dakota

    0.76

    180

23.68

45

Arkansas

    2.7

    640

23.7

46

New Mexico

    1.88

    449

23.88

47

West Virginia

    1.8

    439

24.39

48

South Carolina

    4.1

  1053

25.68

49

Montana

    0.92

    270

29.35

50

Mississippi

    2.88

    885

30.73

51

Wyoming

    0.5

    176

35.2

---

USA  Totals

284.85

42815

14.86

Copyright , Drive and Stay Alive, Inc., 2003

 

 

KEY  

 

States with above-US-average results

 

States with below-US-average results

 

States with results below that of the worst IRTAD country

 

SOURCES:

 

  1. Source: US Census Bureau, figures for July 2003 (chronologically accurate figures would presumably be marginally lower, in which case the death rate would appear even worse)

  2. Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), NHTSA

  3. The number of fatalities, divided by [population divided by 100,000]

  4. As can be seen, the highest number of deaths in a state does not indicate the relative level of any danger. California's rate is comparatively good.

  5. Source: IRTAD -- Selected Reference Values for the Year 2001 

  6. Source: IRTAD, 2001

 

Unfortunately, the USA itself fares very badly in what are currently the latest available (i.e. 2001) IRTAD listings. Of the countries listed, America is -- at best -- in 23rd place (see below). 

 

The question mark hanging over America's true position comes from our own concern, at Drive And Stay Alive, about the reliability of data from Turkey -- ostensibly in top place in 2001 with a death rate of just 5.6  -- but given the fact that much of their other data is absent, together with the alleged and -- to us -- unbelievable rate of improvement in Turkey's death-rate figures over the last few years, and given our own knowledge of driving conditions in Turkey, we would choose to set aside the figures in question. Hence, if one includes the Turkish figures the USA is in 24th place out of thirty countries, and if one excludes Turkey the USA is in 23rd place.

 

 

America has made the least progress of 23 countries over the ten-year period from 1992 through 2001, with a reduction of just 4% in the per-capita death rate. Click here to view the full table for 30 countries

 

 

"The USA quite rightly leads the world in many, many fields, but sadly highway safety is certainly not one of them." -- Eddie Wren,  Executive Director;  Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.