Accidental death stats show that over 160,000 people die from unintentional injuries in the US every year, and preventable accidents are the third leading cause of death.
If you still think that “accidents happen” and can’t be foreseen, we’ve compiled a list of accidental death facts that will change your mind.
Even if they are called accidents, prevention is more than possible in most cases. Awareness and precaution are the interventions needed to save lives.
Leading Causes of Accidental Death (Editor’s Choice)
- In the US, unintentional injuries were the fourth leading cause of deaths in 2020
- Every ten minutes, three Americans die in avoidable accidents
- Drug overdose makes up 94% of all poisoning deaths
- Yearly, more than a million Americans injure themselves by falling down the stairs
- In the US, 98,680 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2020
- Every year, more than 27,000 people visit the hospital after unintentional gun injuries
- Every year, almost 500 people die due to accidental shootings
- Every 30 seconds, a child dies from preventable accident injuries
Accidental Deaths Statistics: Overview
1. In 2020, unintentional injuries were the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
That year, there were 200,955 unintentional injury deaths. That translates to 61 per 100,000 residents. In general, the most common accidental injuries in the US include drug overdose, falls, and motor vehicle crashes.
2. Three people die in avoidable accidents every 10 minutes in the US.
Around 900 people suffer an injury severe enough to require medical assistance every 10 minutes in the US. Most preventable deaths and injuries are home accidents, according to statistics. The cost of these accidents is about $20.89 million per year, and every hour, 20 people die and 5,510 are injured.
3. West Virginia has the highest accident mortality rate in the US.
West Virginia registered 1,859 unintended deaths in 2019, resulting in a 96.9 death rate per 100,000 citizens. New Mexico follows with a 77.8 death rate and 1,687 deaths. On the other hand, even if California accounts for 35.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, it also registered 15,116 accidental deaths: the highest number of deaths from all American states.
4. Approximately 6,000 people die across the UK from preventable accidents every year.
Accidental death stats in the UK show that home accidents cost society about £45.63 billion annually. Falls are the most likely cause of injuries at home at any age, but studies prove the risk increases with age. More women than men over the age of 65 die due to an accident in the home. Among children, however, more boys than girls have accidents at home.
5. Over 3,000 Swedish people died in accidents in 2020.
Unlike the US, road accidents are not the number one cause of accidental death in Sweden. Falling caused the majority of fatalities with nearly 1,000 reports, while poisoning accounted for 476 deaths. Road accidents represented just 273 fatalities.
6. Unintentional injury deaths increased by 11.1% in 2020.
Drug overdose caused the highest number of unintentional injury deaths that year. Globally, falls make up the second leading cause of accidental injury death, with over 680.000 fatal falls occurring every year.
Accidental Death Statistics by Cause
7. Vehicle accidents are the most common cause of preventable fatalities outside the house.
Unintentional deaths can occur for various reasons. Most commonly, studies report road accidents, construction-related accidents, work injuries, medical malpractice, and criminal activity as the main reasons. In most American states, families can request compensation if an accidental death happens.
8. The most common cause of accidental deaths in the home is poisoning.
Poisoning accounts for half of all foreseeable home deaths, followed by accidental falls, representing 29% of deadly injuries. The study attests that 4% of deaths are caused by choking, 3% by drowning, 2% by fire and smoke, and just 1% account for deaths by mechanical suffocation. “Other causes” represent the remaining 11%.
9. Drug overdose accounts for 94% of all poisoning deaths.
(Injury Facts/NSC, CDC)
Accidental poisoning statistics determine that the most common poisoning deaths are due to opioid addictions. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), opioid preventable deaths increased in 2019 by 7%.
The 25–34 age group registered the most opioid overdose deaths in 2019 with 12,537. Over two-thirds of avoidable opioid overdose victims are male. The highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in the US in 12 months totaled 81,000 and ended in May 2020.
10. Yearly, over one million Americans injure themselves by falling down the stairs.
Falling down stairs death statistics show that stairway accidents account for about 12,000 deaths. Another 3,000 people get injuries in such mishaps every day. Studies reveal that distractions are the most common cause of stairs-related injuries. Falls down the stairs are the second leading cause of workplace fatalities.
11. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries in the 65+ age group.
One in five falls causes injury, such as head injury or broken bones. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. In the US, about 36 million older adults fall each year, resulting in over 32,000 falling deaths per year. About 3 million people require medical assistance and go to the Emergency Room.
12. The falling death rate among older people is about 64 per 100,000 US residents.
Wisconsin registered the highest rate of 157 deaths per 100,000 older adults. On the flip side, Alabama accounts for just 28 fatal fall injuries per 100,000 people. CDC estimates that the number of falls and injuries will rise in the next decade, potentially reaching 52 million falls and 12 million injured people over 65 in 2030.
13. People over 65 are the most at risk of choking to death.
Choking deaths statistics show that, on average, 33 people die of choking in the UK every month. Stats reveal that 72% of them are over 65. The same study proves that the elderly are more likely to choke at the hospital than at home. Deadly choking happens because patients are often unsupervised while eating. Care homes carry a similar risk.
14. Nearly 500 people die from unintentional shootings every year.
Accidental death by firearm statistics shows that unintentional shootings account for 37% of nonfatal gun incidents and another 2% of fatalities. The same stats indicate that American citizens are four times more likely to die from gun injuries than people from other high-income countries.
15. Most unintentional gun deaths occur by playing with a gun.
Playing with a gun accounts for 28.3% of deaths, while the second leading cause is believing that the gun was not loaded, accounting for 17.2% of deaths. The third leading cause is hunting accidents accounting for 13.8% of gun-related fatalities.
Accidental death by gun statistics shows that approximately a quarter of those who died from an unintentional shooting had consumed alcohol, and half of them were from the 20–29 age group.
16. Annually, over 27,000 people go to the hospital after unintentional gun injuries.
Just two out of every 100 unintentional firearm injuries are fatal. Notably, 26,000 people survive their injuries each year. Still, in 2019 there were 486 accidental firearm deaths, and in the same year, 90% of victims were male, and only 10% were female.
Accidental Child Deaths
17. Unintentional injuries account for approximately 12,000 deaths in children in the US every year.
Another 9.2 million children go to the ER due to home accidents. On average, five children present to emergency departments each hour for medicine poisoning. Falling dressers or televisions are the likeliest objects to cause fatal injuries. A child dies from a television tip-over every three weeks.
18. Each year, 40,000 kids under five go to the hospital following preventable accidents.
Common accidental deaths among babies and toddlers are caused by choking on food or small objects. Suffocation and strangulation are the second and third leading causes of small children’s injuries and deaths. Falls in both babies and toddlers are also a common cause of avoidable injuries.
19. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional home deaths for small children.
(Stanford Children’s Health)
Kids aged one to four are most likely to die due to drowning. Child accidental death statistics show that most drownings and near-drownings occur in swimming pools, ponds, and sometimes open water sites. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
20. Children aged 0–14 usually die of drowning or mechanical suffocation.
Mechanical suffocation is the leading cause of children’s deaths, accounting for 1,110 fatal injuries. Drowning claims another 710 lives. Poisoning and falls are reasonably uncommon causes of accidental deaths among the young. Poisoning causes only 80 deaths, and falls account for just 40.
21. Each day, around 40 kids under five years old go to the hospital after choking or swallowing a foreign object.
Choking deaths per year statistics reveal that about 14 kids died from choking in the past four years. Food is the most likely cause, but small objects are also a risk. All child deaths from choking occur at the hospital. According to ONS data, the leading cause is food not chopped up correctly.
22. Burns and fires are the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths in kids and adults.
(Johns Hopkins Medicine)
An estimated 3,500 accidental deaths in the home are due to burns. Most often, children get burned by scalding or flames. 65% of kids aged four and under who get to the ER for burn-related injuries suffer from scalding burns, and studies note that 75% of these burns are preventable.
23. A child dies every 30 seconds of injuries from preventable accidents.
In Australia, injuries have replaced disease as the leading cause of child deaths. More than half of injuries in kids occur at home.
Car Accident Death Rate
24. Road crash injuries are estimated to be the 8th leading cause of death globally.
Traffic safety facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more people die in car crashes than HIV/AIDS.
The road crash fatalities rate is over three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries. Low-income countries account for more than 90% of the global road accident deaths but account for just 60% of the world’s registered vehicles.
25. About 1.35 million people die in road accidents each year.
On average, there are 3,700 car accident deaths per day in the USA. Yearly, between 20 and 50 million more people suffer injuries. Over half of traffic deaths occur among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Road accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged 5–29.
26. In the US, more than 38,000 people die every year in road crashes.
The fatality rate of motor accidents is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. Another 4.4 million people are injured severely enough to need medical attention, and pedestrian and cyclist fatalities continue to rise.
Car accident deaths per year in the US statistics reveal there were over 6,720 pedestrian deaths in 2020.
27. There were 38,680 victims in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2020.
That was a 7.2% increase from 2019, when there were 36,096 fatalities. Moreover, the vehicle miles traveled in 2020 dropped by 430.2 billion miles, equating to a 13.2% decrease. The 2020 fatality rate was 1.37 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
28. Wyoming had a 25.4 car accident death rate per 100,000 residents in 2019.
Twenty seven states surpassed the national death rate of 11 per 100,000 citizens, but only a few exceeded the 20 mark. Mississippi closely followed Wyoming with a 21.6 death rate and New Mexico with 20.2 deaths per 100,000 people. On the other hand, Massachusetts and New York registered the lowest rate, at 4.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.
29. The US registered a sharp increase in road deaths in 2020.
Accidental deaths in the US in 2020 stats show that, despite the pandemic, which kept many drivers off the roads, those who did venture out became more reckless. An estimated 42,060 people died in car crashes in 2020, an 8% increase compared to 2019.
30. Most children under 13 who die in car accidents are passengers.
73% of child motor vehicle crash deaths were passenger vehicle occupants in 2019. 16% (138) of children were pedestrians, and another 4% (30) were bicyclists.
The Summary of Accidental Death Stats
Unintentional injuries are a worldwide cause of concern, and while traffic accidents cause most fatalities, we can’t overlook home injuries. Leading causes of injuries at home are poisoning, falling down the stairs, choking, drowning, and fire-related injuries. The stats and facts discussed here show that people can prevent many of these potentially fatal accidents with proper awareness and precaution.
People Also Ask
According to the latest data, the odds of dying from an accidental injury are one in 1,334. Drug poisoning odds are one in 71, while the odds of dying from opioids are lower with one in 98 people.
That being said, one in 106 people die in motor vehicle crashes. Firearm assaults claim about one in 298 lives, and about one in 1,400 people die from exposure to fire or smoke. One in 1,675 die from falls, and drowning claims significantly fewer lives, with odds of one in 5,573.
There are over 3.9 million accidental deaths per year worldwide, accounting for almost 7% of global mortality. Approximately 1.3 million are traffic deaths, while various other kinds of accidents that could happen at home, at work, or simply on the street account for the remaining 2.6 million fatalities.
For most regions, unintentional injuries involve a significantly higher proportion of years of life lost than total deaths. Injuries occur primarily in young people and result in more years of life lost than diseases that typically affect older people.
In the US, an estimated 150,000–170,000 people die from unintentional accidents yearly. Poisoning accounts for about 50,000 of them, about 40,000 people die in road accidents, and another 34,000 lose their lives because of falls. Unintentional injuries account for just about 6% of all deaths. There are an additional 3 million nonfatal injuries per year, most requiring medical assistance.
The term “accidental” refers to situations that people can’t control, such as car crashes, falls, choking, drowning, machinery, etc. Insurance companies typically exclude things like acts of war and death from any kinds of illegal activities.
Dying from any illness is also excluded from the accidents category. Dangerous hobbies, such as race car driving, bungee jumping, escalating, or any other similar activity, are excluded as well.
Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans in the 1–44 age group. The leading causes of death for accidental injury include unintentional poisoning (for instance, drug overdose), unintentional motor vehicle crashes, accidental drowning, and accidental falls.
Incidental death studies indicate that road accidents are the leading global cause of accidental deaths. As many as 1.3 million people die in road crashes every year. More people now die in motor accidents than from AIDS.
Every hour, 20 people die, and 5,510 are injured as a result of accidents. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows nearly 38,000 people are killed in approximately 35,000 motor vehicle crashes yearly. America’s crash death rate is more than twice the average of 19 other high-income countries.
Each year, 1.35 million people lose their lives on roadways worldwide. Every day, around 3,700 people are killed in traffic accidents involving buses, cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, or pedestrians.
More than half of those killed are pedestrians, motorcyclists, or cyclists. On US roads, about 100 people die daily. Associations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) show that adults drink too much and drive about 121 million times per year and cause about 300,000 drinking and driving incidents a day.
In 2020, cars killed over 42,000 people, which represented an increase from the year before, when there were 39,107 fatalities. So, there was an increase despite the fact that the number of miles traveled by car dropped by 13% from 2019.
Moreover, between January and June 2021, deaths increased again from the same period in 2020, by 16%. Accidental death stats reveal that many people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention.