Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

While different government agencies and reporting entities give different perspectives of motor vehicle accidents across the United States through the use of statistics and numbers, which can vary from one year to the next, we know one thing for sure. Far too many accidents occur on American roads every year, injuring and killing innocent victims and changing the lives of those they love forever. Yet, despite increased technology and safety features in the vehicles Americans drive, injuries and fatalities remain a serious concern regardless of state.

Statistics are a critical factor in how discoveries happen in science. Professionals can use statistical data to make decisions and predictions. For example, statistics allows people to understand a subject matter more deeply. However, year after year, it seems that motor vehicle accident statistics make little to no difference in reducing or preventing accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Unfortunately, statistics don’t just represent numbers and scientific tabulations. More importantly, they also represent real faces and lives changed, ruined, and even lost in motor vehicle accidents. Of course, if you or a loved one became one of these statistics, you must know that legal help is available to you by hiring a car accident attorney.

Early Estimates for Motor Vehicle Collisions in 2022

It takes time to gather figures and determine statistical data; however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its crash estimates for the first quarter of 2022.

Their statistical estimation of traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2022 reveals:

  • An estimated 9,560 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes, representing an increase of about seven percent compared to 8,935 fatalities estimated during the first quarter of 2021. This is the highest number of deaths in the first quarter since 2002.
  • Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reveals that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first three months of 2022 increased by over 40 billion miles, representing a 5.6 percent increase over the first quarter of 2021.
  • The fatality rate per 100 million VMT for the first quarter of 2022 rose to 1.27 per 100 million VMT, exceeding the projected rate of 1.25 deaths per 100 million VMT during the previous year’s first quarter.

During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, roadway fatalities spiked, as did the fatality rate per 100 million VMT.

Unfortunately, the upward trend of motor vehicle accident fatalities in 2020 has run over into 2021 and trickled into at least the first quarter of 2022. The increase in the fatality rate per 100 million VMT in 2020 also continued into the first quarter of 2021.

Still, it surprisingly decreased in the second, third, and fourth quarters of the same year, but it shows up again in the first quarter of 2022.

NHTSA continues to collect and complete crash fatality data for 2021 and 2022 using information from law enforcement crash reports and other reputable national sources.

Startling 2020 and 2021 Motor Vehicle Accident StatisticsMotor Vehicle Accident Statistics

Vehicles get safer every year, and at the same time, U.S. roadway deaths continue to increase. About 13 motor vehicle accidents happen every minute, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In 20202 alone, these car accidents cost the economy approximately $474 billion, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Even though driving is inherently dangerous, motorists can take specific steps, including using defensive driving skills to help prevent costly and deadly accidents.

Still not convinced dangerous roads are a problem in America today?

Consider these motor vehicle collisions statistics:

  • Estimates indicate that 42,915 individuals lost their lives in car crashes in 2021, a 10.5 percent increase over 2020.
  • Approximately 4.8 million individuals suffered severe injuries in car accidents in 2020.
  • Pedestrian accident fatalities have increased by 13 percent since 2020.
  • The average economic cost (including wage and income losses, medical costs and expenses, motor vehicle damage, administrative expenses, and employers’ uninsured costs) for a fatal car accident in 2020 was $1,750,000, and $101,000 for a disabling injury. For an evident injury, the cost was $29,200, a possible injury $23,900, no observed injury $12,800, and property damage only per vehicle was $4,700. The average comprehensive cost was $11,449,000 for death, disabling injury $1,252,000, evident injury $345,000, possible injury $160,000, no injury observed $52,700. Of course, these are only reported averages, and many people lose much more from crashes.
  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2020, passenger vehicle occupants accounted for 62 percent of fatalities, pedestrians 17 percent, motorcyclists 14 percent, bicyclists two percent, and large truck occupants two percent.
  • The rate of car crash deaths per 100,000 miles traveled grew 21 percent between 2019 and 2020, accounting for the largest yearly increase since reporting started in 1975.
  • July 4th typically has one of the highest crash deaths of all days of the year.
  • In fatalities from passenger vehicles, 23 percent of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle.
  • In 2020, hit-and-run crashes and collisions caused 2,564 fatalities.
  • Almost all states reported increases in traffic deaths between 2020 and 2021.
  • ​Most car accidents happen on the weekends, especially on Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight.
  • Car accidents most commonly occur in parking lots, stop signs, rural highways, and two-lane roads. Many crashes occur during rush hour and at intersections.
  • Approximately 57 percent of fatal car accidents are single-vehicle accidents, while ​43 percent involve more than one vehicle.

According to the NSC, estimates reveal that only nine states experienced a decline in motor vehicle accident fatalities between 2020 and 2021, including:

  • Alaska (-3 percent)
  • Delaware (-11 percent)
  • Hawaii (-20 percent)
  • Idaho (-7 percent)
  • Maine (-1 percent)
  • Nebraska (-9 percent)
  • New Mexico (-4 percent)
  • North Dakota (-1 percent)
  • Wyoming (-13 percent)

What’s even more alarming is that at least eight states experienced more than a 15 percent increase in the estimated number of deaths last year over the previous year:

  • Arkansas (+26 percent)
  • Connecticut (+22 percent)
  • District of Columbia (+33 percent)
  • Georgia (+18 percent)
  • Mississippi (+19 percent)
  • Rhode Island (+26 percent)
  • South Dakota (+33 percent)
  • Vermont (+32 percent)

Common Causes of Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to the NHTSA, there were 42,915 motor vehicle fatalities in 2021, up 10.5 percent from 2020, representing the highest increase in year-to-year fatalities in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Less driving during 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic might account for the sudden increase. However, then in 2021, people may have begun to drive more, and motor vehicle fatalities increased along with the increase in miles traveled.

According to the NHTSA, the leading causes of fatal motor vehicle collisions are:

  • Drunk driving: Drunk drivers are responsible for over 17,000 deaths annually. According to these figures, someone dies from a drunk driving accident every 30 minutes. The annual cost of drunk driving-related crashes is over $44 billion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Non-use of seatbelts: Of those fatally injured in a passenger vehicle, 46 percent of drivers and 47 percent of passengers weren’t wearing their seatbelts. Yet, one in seven motorists/passengers doesn’t use their seat belts while in a moving vehicle, even though seat belts reduce the risk of serious injury by half and the risk of death by 45 percent, according to data from the ​​CDC​​. Those who don’t wear a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a car in the event of an accident.
  • Speeding: 29 percent of car accident fatalities in 2020 involved speeding. Over half of deadly car motor vehicle collisions that same year occurred on roads with speed limits under 55 miles per hour (MPH).
  • Distracted driving: As per the IIHS, six percent of all deadly car accidents in 2020 involved at least one distracted driver; 64 percent were “lost in thought (daydreaming),” and an additional 12 percent were using their cell phones. Almost ​950,000 vehicle crashes were the result of cell phone use while driving. This means that approximately one out of every six motor vehicle accidents is the result of texting and driving, according to the NHTSA.
  • Drowsy or fatigued driving: In 2020 alone, drowsy driving caused 633 car accident deaths. In fact, drowsy driving was linked to almost 2 percent of total traffic fatalities that year, according to the NHTSA. However, recent studies show that drowsy driving is as dangerous as intoxicated driving.

Demographics at Higher Risks of Car Accidents

The CDC reports that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans between ages one and 54. However, some populations are more likely than others to be involved in a deadly motor vehicle collision. For instance, teenage motorists are one of the most vulnerable demographics.

Age Risk Factors

Gender Risk Factors

Almost every year between 1975 and 2020, there were two male motor vehicle accident fatalities for every female motor vehicle accident fatality, according to the IIHS. Why is this? Probably because men usually drive more miles than women and are more likely to engage in risky conduct such as driving while under the influence, speeding, and not wearing seatbelts. Speeding was more of a factor in motor vehicle crashes with male drivers than female drivers annually between 1982 and 2020.

Motorcycle Accident StatisticsMotor Vehicle Accident Statistics

According to the NHTSA, there were 5,579 fatalities from motorcycle accidents in 2020 compared to 5,044 in 2019, representing a sharp increase of 11 percent. This is the most significant one-year percentage increase ever, confirming that 2020 was the deadliest year for America’s motorcyclists. Unfortunately, NHTSA’s preliminary numbers for total traffic deaths in 2021 reveal substantial increases in the first three quarters compared to the same periods in 2020.

Additional motorcycle accident statistics of note include:

  • Approximately 90 percent of motorcyclists who lost their lives in accidents are males
  • Most motorcyclists who die in accidents are between the ages of 25 and 29
  • About 25 percent of motorcycle fatalities occur due to collisions with fixed objects
  • Wet weather and roads are to blame for almost one-third of motorcycle accidents
  • Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, but only 18 states and the District of Columbia legally require helmet use by all riders
  • According to the IIHs, in 2020, 26 percent of the fatally injured motorcyclists were under the age of 30, compared with the 80 percent who were in 1975

Motor Vehicle Accidents and Their Heavy Impact

While there’s no debate that car crashes can cause serious injury or death, they also emotionally impact those involved, even though people discuss these struggles less often. For example, motor vehicle collision survivors sometimes have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), causing them to be fearful and anxious about getting in a vehicle or driving one in the future. Between 21 percent and 67 percent of car crash survivors report experiencing depressive moods. Furthermore, almost half experience anxiety and driving phobia after an accident, according to one study.

Did You or a Loved One Become a Statistic? Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one were recently involved in a motor vehicle accident, make it a priority to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer in your area today. The sooner you meet with one, the sooner they can begin protecting your rights and pursuing full and fair compensation on your behalf. Don’t speak to the insurance claims adjuster until you hire an attorney. Car accident claims handled with legal counsel are typically much more successful than those that aren’t. Contact us at Boohoff Law to get your consultation today,

October 22, 2022
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