Car accidents are a problem that just won’t go away. Despite ever-safer cars, speed limits, and strict laws about drunk and distracted driving, accidents continue to run up a massive death toll and huge sums in damages. Around 1.35 million people die on the world’s roads every year.
We’ve collected this car accident statistics roundup to help clarify the prevalence of accidents and the impact they have on society.
- Key Figures
- Incidence of Motor Vehicle Crashes in the US
- Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in the US
- Police-Reported Car Accidents in the US
- Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatal Crashes in the US
- Seat Belt Use Among Fatally Injured Passenger Vehicle Occupants
- Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Involving Speeding as a Contributing Factor
- Economic Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes in the US
- Road Traffic Deaths Worldwide
- An estimated 14.19 million motor vehicle crashes occurred in the US in 2019, including cases not reported to the police.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) registers around 1.35 million annual motor vehicle traffic fatalities worldwide.
- 31,785 people died in traffic-related accidents in the US in the first 9 months of 2022.
- The economic cost of motor vehicle accidents in the US amounted to $339.8 billion in 2019.
- The vast majority (76.75%) of all motor vehicle crashes in the US resulted in property damage only.
- Nearly a third (29.6%) of all fatal car crashes in the US involved alcohol-impaired driving.
How Many Car Accidents Happen in the US Each Year?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, the number of police-reported traffic crashes hit 5,250,837 in the US in 2020. Compared to 2019, there was a 22.28% decrease in the number of police-reported crashes.
Number of Police-Reported Traffic Crashes in the US
Based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, the total number of motor vehicle crashes reached 14.19 million in the US in 2019, including crashes not reported to the police, which are believed to account for over half (53.2%) of all crashes in the country.
Car Accidents by Type of Damage
Nearly 8 in 10 (76.75%) of all car accident crashes in the US cause only property damage, with no injuries or deaths.
There were an estimated 10.89 million motor vehicle crashes in the US in 2019, which only resulted in property damage only. Around 6.5 million of these were not reported to the police.
Approximately 3.27 million motor vehicle crashes resulted in an injury in the US in 2019, including 31.9% of accidents not reported to the police (mainly involving minor or moderate injuries).
Traffic fatalities occurred in 0.24% (33,621) of all estimated motor vehicle crashes in the US in 2019.
|Type||Police-reported||Not police-reported||Total||Share of unreported crashes|
|Property damage only||4,390,169||6,503,550||10,893,719||59.7%|
How Many People Die in Car Accidents in the US?
An estimated 31,785 people died in the US in the first 9 months of 2022 in car crash accidents. That’s a 0.2% decline over the same timeframe (January-September) in 2021.
Motor vehicle traffic fatalities totaled 42,915 in the US in 2021, that’s a 10.5% increase over 2020 when vehicle traffic was reduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled reached 1.30 in the first 9 months of 2022, down from 1.32 overJanuary-September of 2021.
Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatality Rate* in the US
*Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
Traffic Fatalities by State
Traffic-related death rates greatly vary by state, ranging from 0.71 to 1.78 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled across 50 states in the US in the first 9 months of 2022.
Massachusetts topped the list with the fewest traffic-related deaths per 100 million vehicles, with 0.71 or 328 fatalities in total in the state for January-September 2022.
South Carolina and Arkansas registered higher fatality rates than any other state: 1.78 and 1.75 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, respectively, 2.5x greater than the rate in Massachusetts.
Number of Vehicle Traffic Fatality Rate* in the US by State
*Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
Car Accidents by Severity
There were 3.62 million police-reported car accidents that resulted in property damage only in the US in 2020, accounting for 69% of all reported crashes in the country.
About 3 in 10 (30.3%) of all police-reported motor vehicle crashes in 2020 – around 1.59 million – involved injuries.
An estimated 35,766 fatal accidents occurred in the US in 2020, accounting for 0.7% of reported crashes.
Police-Reported Car Accidents in the US by Severity
Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatal Crashes
In 2020, there were 10,598 alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the US, accounting for 29.6% of all fatal crashes in the country. That’s a 14.3% increase in fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving over the past year.
Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatal Crashes in the US
|Year||Total fatal crashes||Fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving||Share of fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving|
Fatal Crashes and Alcohol-Impaired Driving by Time of Day
In 2020, nearly half (47.1%) of fatal crashes in the US that occurred from 9 pm to 2:59 am involved alcohol-impaired driving.
The share of fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving drops to as low as 11% for accidents occurring between 9 am and 11:59 am.
|Time of day||Total fatal crashes||Alcohol-impaired driving||Share of fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired driving|
|Midnight to 2:59 am||3,871||2,113||54.6%|
|3 am to 5:59 am||2,884||1,104||38.3%|
|6 am to 8:59 am||3,197||457||14.3%|
|9 am to 11:59 am||3,142||347||11.0%|
|Noon to 2:59 pm||4,447||607||13.6%|
|3 pm to 5:59 pm||5,597||1,272||22.7%|
|6 pm to 8:59 pm||6,523||2,127||32.6%|
|9 pm to 11:59 pm||5,792||2,435||42.0%|
Seat Belt Use Among Fatally Injured Passengers
In 2020, less than half (44.3%) of drivers in fatal motor vehicle crashes in the US used a seatbelt, while 45.8% were unbelted at the time of the accident. Compared to 2019, the share of belt use in fatal motor vehicle crashes declined from 49.5%.
Seat Belt Use Among Drivers
Note: Data above is for drivers only.
Based on 2020 data, only 41.5% of passengers 13 years old or older in fatal crashes used a seat belt. Seat belt usage among passengers 13 years and older in fatal accidents declined from 44.5% in 2019.
Seat Belt Use Among Passengers
Note: Data above concerning passengers (13 years old and older) only.
Vehicle Crash Deaths and Speeding
Based on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analysis of 2020 US data, speeding was a factor in nearly a third (29%) of motor vehicle crash deaths. That’s an increase from 26.4% in 2019.
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Involving Speeding as a Contributing Factor
Economic Cost of Car Crashes
The annual economic cost of car accidents that happened in the US amounted to $339.8 billion in 2019.
That cost comes out to over $1000 for each person in the US, and 1.6% of the US GDP.
Vehicular accidents cost taxpayers $30 billion in 2019, the equivalent of $230 per American household.
Including quality of life valuations, the total cost of traffic accidents in the US is estimated at almost $1.4 trillion.
Road Traffic Deaths Worldwide
Based on World Health Organization data, traffic-related deaths reached 1.35 million people worldwide in 2016 worldwide. Vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for children and young people (5-29 years old).
Among people of all ages, road traffic injuries were the 8th leading cause of death with a 2.5% share of total deaths, more than diarrhoeal diseases (2.4%) or tuberculosis (2.3%).
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Among Select High-Income Countries
Among 29 high-income countries included in the CDC analysis, the United States had the highest population-based car accident death rate (11.1 per 100,000 people) in 2019, 2.22x higher than the overall median.
Sweden and Norway topped the list with the lowest population-based motor vehicle death rates in 2019, with 2.0 fatalities in both countries per 100,000 population.
Among the 21 select high-income countries with available data on vehicle miles traveled included in the CDC analysis, Hungary topped the list with the most motor vehicle crash deaths rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, with 2.05 fatalities, 2.2x higher than the overall mean.
The United States ranked in the upper range of motor vehicle crash deaths, with 1.11 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2019.
Motor Vehicle Deaths per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Among WHO Regions
According to a World Health Organization report on road safety, population-based rates of traffic-related deaths are highest in Africa (26.6 per 100,000 people) and South-East Asia (20.7 per 100,000 people).
Europe ranked as the region with the lowest number of traffic-related fatalities, with 9.3 per 100,000 people. That’s less than half of the world’s average motor vehicle death rate of 18.2 per 100,000 people.
Note: Data as of 2016
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