The safety technology in cars has evolved so much during the last decades, but we still can’t see any significant traffic safety statistics improvement. They are improving, but not as much as expected.
Are we relying on technology more than we should?
The technology brought on many improvements in active and passive safety. We have ABS, ESP, ASR, TCS, and all sorts of interestingly named drivers’ aids. We have airbags, protective cages, and impact zones to keep us safe in the event of a car crash. But maybe they are giving us a false sense of security.
Important Traffic Accidents Stats (Editor’s Picks)
- About 1.35 million people worldwide die each year in traffic accidents
- 34,410 people died in traffic accidents in the US from January to October 2020
- In 2020, 24 children died from heat strokes after left unattended in cars
- Almost 2,500 US teens lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2018
- The number of pedestrians killed in traffic has increased by 69% in the past ten years
- Approximately 46% of child car seats are not installed correctly
- Subaru WRX owners are two times more likely to get a speeding ticket
Traffic Safety Statistics
1. Approximately 1.35 million people worldwide die each year as a result of traffic accidents.
(World Health Organisation), (Statista)
The death toll is not evenly spread globally. What’s interesting is that 93% of the global fatalities are reported in low and middle-income countries, even though they have only 60% of the world’s vehicles. That can be attributed to the fact that drivers in wealthier countries have newer cars with more safety features. Another important factor is that, in general, rich countries also have stricter driving laws and better law enforcement.
2. The number of deaths from car accidents has decreased by 3.3% in the first half of 2020.
But, the results are much worse than the year before. The NHTSA compared data from the first half of 2020 and the corresponding period in 2019, and they came to a worrying conclusion. The number of deaths dropped, but so did the number of total traveled miles, by 16.6%. And the fatality rate is calculated by comparing these two. Тhe result is – the fatality rate per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled has skyrocketed to 1.42, from 1.08 in 2019.
3. Approximately 17% of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians.
Pedestrians are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. They account for almost a fifth of all traffic deaths. This high percentage is mainly due because pedestrians are completely unprotected in a case of an accident, unlike car drivers who have active and passive safety measures in their vehicles. But, the encouraging fact is that the number is decreasing, as there were 2.7% fewer pedestrian fatalities in 2019 than in 2018. O
4. We now have a three times lower fatality rate than in 1981.
There were 50,000 deaths in traffic in 1981. If that trend had continued, given the traffic increase, we would have more than 120,000 traffic deaths per year now. To put things in perspective, there were 36,096 traffic-related deaths in 2019. The fatality rate per 100 million miles has dropped from 3.5 in 1981 to 1.10 in 2019. So we are much safer than we were before, but there is still a long way to go.
5. Almost 2,500 US teens died in traffic accidents in 2018.
As the official road accidents report shows, around 7% of all traffic-related deaths were persons between 13 and 19 years old. What’s more, vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death among US teens. Moreover, teen drivers between 16 and 19 have the highest risk of being in an accident. Per mile driven, they are almost three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than people over 20.
6. People in South Carolina are three times more likely to die in a car crash than in Massachusetts.
Local traffic accidents reports show that South Carolina has the highest fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled – 1.83. The lowest fatality rate is in Massachusetts, only 0.54 (The nation’s average was 1.13 in 2018). What’s interesting is that the residents of Massachusetts don’t really like wearing seatbelts. Only 82% of vehicle occupants are observed wearing them.
7. Low-income countries have ten times higher traffic death rates than rich countries.
(World Health Organisation)
When it comes to traffic fatalities by country, the statistics show that the highest rates of fatalities are reported in low-income countries like Liberia (35.7 deaths per 100,000 residents), Burundi (34.7), Burkina Faso (30.5). As expected, rich countries have the lowest traffic fatalities rates. Switzerland reports only 2.7 deaths, followed by the UK with 3.1, and Scandinavian countries with 2.8 to 4. The US is in the middle of the list, with a score of 12.4 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 residents, while Canada has only 5.17.
8. The traffic accident reports show that, on average, 361 Americans die in car crashes during the Memorial Day weekend.
(National Safety Council)
This number is a 6-year average, based on the numbers from 2013 to 2018. The NSC estimated that the number of traffic-related deaths on Memorial Day Weekend 2020 would be 366. The second on the list of the most dangerous holidays is Labor Day weekend, with 308 traffic fatalities on average, followed by the 4th of July Weekend with 307.
9. Electric scooters are becoming an important factor in road accidents reports, as seven people died in accidents involving this kind of transport.
The German police published their first-ever electric scooter accident report, and the numbers aren’t looking good. From January to September 2020, they have registered 1570 e-scooter accidents where people were injured or killed. Seven people died, while 269 were severely injured, and 1096 people were slightly injured. As the popularity of this kind of transport is increasing, the numbers will probably rise.
10. Car accident statistics for 2020 show that the ten-month death total is approximately 5.9% higher than the same period in 2019.
(National Safety Council)
The National Safety Council estimates the number of traffic-related deaths from January to October of 2020 to 34,410, and that is quite an increase compared to 32,250 in 2019. You would expect that the numbers will be lower because of the lockdowns and quarantines, but this isn’t the case. After three months of decrease during the lockdowns, the numbers started going up, and October is a fifth consecutive month with a steady increase in traffic-related deaths.
11. Out of all traffic fatalities in 2020, 24 children died from a heat stroke.
(National Safety Council)
This disturbing statistic gets even worse. On average, 38 kids under the age of 15 lose their lives each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. These kinds of accidents are a result of negligence and could have easily been avoided. 2018 and 2019 were record years when 53 children died in hot vehicles.
12. The number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents has increased by 69% since 2009.
The statistics show that the traffic fatalities by year are decreasing in rural regions and increasing in urban areas, mostly because pedestrian fatalities are up 69%, bicyclist deaths increased 48%, and motorcycle accidents claimed 33% more lives than in 2009.
13. On average, almost 30 Americans die in drunk-driving crashes each day.
Approximately 10,000 people die each year in traffic accidents where alcohol is involved. That number has dropped by a third in the last 30 years, but it’s still very high. Drunk driving statistics show that the age group between 21 and 24 had the highest percent of drunk drivers. In addition, 27% of people from that age group involved in fatal crashes had elevated blood alcohol levels.
14. We have traveled 16.6% fewer miles in the first half of 2020.
The total mileage covered by vehicles in the US decreased by about 264.2 billion miles, or 16.6%, compared to 2019. This was solely due to lockdowns in the spring. But even with these low mobility levels, we still managed to bump up the number of traffic deaths in 2020 to more than 34,000. The frightening thing is that the numbers could have been even higher if it hadn’t been for the lockdowns and different movement restrictions. NHTSA conducted a study and found out that the average speeds during rush hours were increased by 50%. Maybe that’s the explanation.
15. Canada has two times better statistics than the US.
With an average of 1881 highway deaths per year in the last five years, Canada managed to lower its fatality rates to 5.2 per 100,000 residents. To put things in perspective, the US ratio is 12.4, making American roads one of the most dangerous in the developed part of the world.
16. Approximately 14% of all traffic fatalities come from accidents where large trucks were involved.
(Bureau of Labor Statistics), (NHTSA)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics for 2019 show that out of 36,096 fatalities in 2019, 5005 were in crashes where at least one large truck was involved. That number didn’t change much since 2018 when 5006 such accidents occurred. As for the truckers, 617 of them lost their lives. The disproportion in numbers is mostly because, in truck-car collisions, the people in smaller vehicles get hurt more often.
How to Improve Traffic Safety Statistics
The number of vehicles on the roads is going to increase. It’s been on a constant rise since the car was invented, and people aren’t really prepared to give up that sense of freedom cars give us, no matter how developed public means of transport are. But more vehicles on the roads don’t necessarily have to mean more accidents. The most important thing is to improve active and passive safety on all vehicles. The following statistics show exactly how important they are.
17. NHTSA traffic safety facts suggest that approximately 15% of all motorcycle fatalities could have been prevented if people wore helmets.
The authorities estimate that motorcycle helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2017 and that helmets could have saved 749 bikers’ lives. This clearly shows how important it is to be adequately equipped. Don’t think about looking cool; think about safety. No one looks cool in an ambulance.
18. Traffic accident reports show that 47% of people killed in car crashes didn’t have their seatbelts on.
And many of them could have survived if they had been restrained. It’s hard to believe that there are still some people who refuse to wear seatbelts. Luckily, they are a minority. The authorities estimate that about 90.7% of drivers and passengers are wearing seatbelts, and that percentage is increasing over the years. Unfortunately, these percentages are improving slower in some categories – the NHTSA statistics also show that just 84% of pickup truck drivers have their seatbelts on while driving.
b. As far as the states are concerned, North Dakota and Wyoming have the lowest scores, with between 75% and 83% of vehicle occupants who like to buckle up. NHTSA estimates that, in 2017 alone, seat belts saved 14,955 lives and could have saved 2,549 people more.
19. Traffic stats show that cars equipped with crash-avoidance technologies were involved in 7% to 78% fewer crashes, depending on the type of crash.
In a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the results clearly showed that using the latest crash-avoidance technologies resulted in fewer accidents and insurance claims. For instance, vehicles with rear cameras and parking sensors reported 78% fewer backing-up accidents.
20. Autonomous cars might improve our road accidents statistics, and by 2030, there will be 2.9 million self-driving vehicles on the roads worldwide.
The experts predict that the annual production of autonomous cars will reach 800,000 per year by 2030. A closer look at the numbers tells us that there might be more than 2.9 million partially or fully autonomous vehicles on roads worldwide by that time. But, of course, the majority will end up on the rich countries’ streets, and a large portion of them in the US. So, we will have to get used to driving with robots around.
Key Driving Safety Facts You Should Keep in Mind
21. About 21% of all crashes are weather-related
(Federal Highway Administration)
When faced with severe weather, it’s best not to travel. However, in case you have no choice, you need to take special care because out of 5,891,000 crashes that averagely happen every year, about 1,235,000 are directly caused by bad weather. Although snow and icy roads are the first things that come to our minds when talking about dangerous driving conditions, the fact is that 70% of bad-weather accidents happen on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall.
22. NHTSA traffic safety facts published in 2020 reveal that in 26% of crashes, at least one driver was speeding.
Although this percentage is on the decline, 1% from the previous year, it is still high, considering all the effort put in public campaigns and harsher penalization policies. The main contributors to these statistics, as expected, are the young people, as 30% of male drivers and 18% of female drivers from the 15 to 20 age group that were involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
23. Child car seats are of little use if not installed properly, and 46% are not.
Driving safety statistics show that 59% of child car seats and 20% of booster seats are not correctly installed. That can seriously impair the effectiveness and increase the likelihood of injury. So, it’s important to read the instructions, even for booster seats, even though they seem easy to install.
24. Subaru WRX owners are two times more likely to get a speeding ticket.
One of the most interesting traffic safety facts in 2020 came from research done by an insurance company. They’ve established that 20.49% of Subaru WRX owners have at least one speeding ticket, and the national average is 10.54%. The rest of the cars on the list are Volkswagen GTI (17.38%) and Subaru Impreza (15.9%). As far as the car makers are concerned, the overall winner is Dodge, with four of its models in the top 10 list.
25. Approximately 53% of all traffic deaths happen in single-vehicle crashes.
The US traffic death statistics show that about half of fatalities occurred when just one vehicle was involved. The most common reasons are going off the road and losing control of the vehicle due to excessive speed, alcohol, bad weather conditions, distraction, drowsiness, etc.
We should all work on becoming better and safer drivers and not expect technology to take care of that. And the Traffic statistics clearly show that we have a lot of work to do. The surprising results about traffic fatalities during the Coronavirus pandemic could be viewed as a warning sign. Even with the lockdowns and reduced mobility, we somehow managed to kill each other on the roads more and with greater efficiency. If only we were so effective in other fields!
People Also Ask
The US data shows that In 2019, an estimated 38,800 people lost their lives to car accidents, which is a 2% decrease from 2018 (39,404 traffic fatalities). There were 40,231 deaths in 2017 and 40,327 deaths in 2016.
So, the number of fatalities is clearly dropping, but it’s still high compared to other developed countries. For example, 34,420 people died from January to October of 2020.
On average, more than 40,000 people die in traffic accidents each year in the US, when the last decade is viewed. The number has a decreasing trend. The number of traffic deaths in the US in the sixties was above 50,000, with much less traffic.
According to the NHTSA, if those death rates had remained, we would have more than 120,000 traffic deaths each year.
On average, 110 people die every day in traffic accidents in the US. But the most traffic fatalities happen during the weekends and holidays. Memorial Day weekend, for instance, is notorious for its high traffic death rates.
On average, about 400 people die on the roads every year during that holiday. On a global scale, around 3287 people die every day in traffic accidents, mostly in undeveloped countries.
The data for 2020 is not conclusive yet, but the preliminary results do not look promising. The National Safety Council estimates that 34,410 people lost their lives in traffic accidents during the first ten months of 2020, which is 2160 more than the same period in 2019.
This is a 7% increase, despite the lockdowns and movement restrictions that caused the total number of miles traveled to drop by 13.9%
The highest rates of fatalities from car crashes are reported in undeveloped countries like Liberia (35.7 deaths per 100,000 residents), Burundi (34.7), and Burkina Faso (30.5).
When it comes to absolute numbers, the countries with the most traffic fatalities are naturally the ones with the most residents – India with 299091 and China with 256180 traffic deaths. Their death rates per 100,000 residents are 22.6 and 18.2, respectively.
On the other side of the scale are the rich countries. For instance, Switzerland reports only 2.7 deaths per 100,000 residents, followed by the UK with 3.1, and Scandinavian countries in Europe with 2.8 to 4 death rates. The US is in the middle of the list, and with a score of 12.4 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 residents is the worst-positioned developed country in the world.
When looking at absolute numbers, states with the least car crashes involving fatalities in 2018 were Rhode Island with 56, Vermont with 60, and Alaska with 69.
The ratio between total miles traveled and the number of deaths shows that Rhode Island and Vermont are relatively safe, with results below the nation’s average.
On the other hand, the Alaskan low death numbers are only due to a low number of residents. The rate there is 1.46, which is considerably higher than the national average.
The countries with the lowest fatality rates are Switzerland and the UK, with 2.7 and 3.1 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents.
We can assume that these countries also have the lowest number of car accidents because there is no all-inclusive data on the number of car accidents globally. In addition, the legislation has changed in many developed countries, and they allow self-reporting.
On the other hand, traffic safety statistics in developing countries don’t keep a good track of minor incidents.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Federal Highway Administration
- National Safety Council
- National Safety Council
- National Safety Council
- World Heath Organisation
- World Health Organisation
- World Health Organisation