10 Driving Accident Statistics That Will Shock You

Road accidents are unfortunately extremely common, but being an aware, present driver can make a huge difference. In the U.S., more than 38,000 people die annually in car crashes, while an additional 4.4 million sustain severe injuries due to driving fatalities.

To give you a glimpse into the impact of car accidents in the U.S. and globally — and to hopefully incite you to be a more mindful driver — here are ten driving accident statistics that will shock you.

#1 — More than 1.35 Million People Die in Car Accidents Annually

Every year, more than 1.35 million people die due to car accidents. This means that on average, 3,700 people lose their lives to car crashes daily. The World Health Organization further reveals that more than half of these accidents affect vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

#2 — Car Accidents are the 8th Leading Cause of Death Globally

Car accident fatalities, according to a WHO 2018 global report on road safety, cause more deaths than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. People in low-income countries are at a higher risk of dying from road accidents compared to those in high-income countries.

About 13 percent of global car accident deaths occur in low-income countries despite residents owning only one percent of the world’s motor vehicles.

#3 — Fatal Car Accidents Cost Most Countries More than 3% of their GDP

Most countries use more than three percent of their GDP to take care of car accident patients. According to a World Bank study, cutting traffic deaths by half can result in substantial economic gains. Countries that don’t invest in road safety could be missing between seven and twenty-two percent of per capita GDP growth over 24 years.

#4 — 29% of Global Car Accidents Deaths are Passengers

Approximately 29 percent of the deaths that occur due to motor vehicle accidents affect passengers, not drivers. Wearing a seat-belt, however, reduces the risk of death among front-seat occupants by 45 to 50 percent and rear seat occupants by 25 percent.

For motorcyclists, correct helmet use can result in a 42 percent reduction in the risk of fatal injuries and a 69 percent reduction in the risk of head injuries. Biker Justice USA reports that motorcyclists in Illinois are not required by law to ride a helmet. Illinois and Iowa are the only two states without helmet laws for motorcyclists.

#5 — Car Accident Injuries are the Main Cause of Death for Children and Young Adults between 5 and 29 Years

Young adults in the age group of 15 to 44 account for more than half of all road accident deaths. Furthermore, 73 percent of all road accident deaths occur among male adults who are younger than 25 years.

Young males are three times more likely to be killed in car accidents than young females in the same age group.


Related: What is collision coverage?


#6 — Distracted Driving is the Leading Cause of Traffic Fatalities in the U.S.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in the U.S., followed closely by drunk driving and speeding. In 2018, approximately 4,637 deaths in the U.S. were caused by distracted driving.

Some of the common driving distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Applying makeup
  • Talking
  • Eating

#7 — South Carolina Leads in the Number of Deaths per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Travelled in the U.S.

According to an analysis done on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the highest number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled came from the state of South Carolina.

Here is a state by state comparison for the leading ten states in the U.S.

StateDeaths per 100 million miles vehicles traveled
South Carolina1.83
Mississippi1.63
Arizona1.53
Louisiana1.53
West Virginia1.51
Alaska1.46
Kentucky1.46
Oklahoma1.44
New Mexico1.43
Montana1.43

#8 — Car Fatalities in the U.S. Have Risen in the Last Five Years

Between 2011 and 2017, car accident fatalities have increased by 5,000. This is after a decade of decrease in the number of traffic accidents. The main culprit behind this increase according to experts has been the rise of cellphone use among drivers.

Smartphone distraction due to texting and using social media, especially among young drivers, has been a significant cause of car accidents in the U.S. Interestingly, a recent report stated that Covid-19 has halved California’s traffic accidents.

#9 —The Average Mobile Worker Drives Distracted for 1,200 Miles Annually

According to the 2018 research done by Motus, there is a disturbing rise in distracted driving among the mobile workforce. The mobile worker takes 49 percent more trips than the average American. The Motus report indicates that smartphone ownership has risen among mobile workers, and there is a disturbing parallel rise in car accidents.

As smartphone ownership rose from 55 percent in 2013 to 77 percent in 2017, car accidents also escalated from 5.7 million to 6.4 million over the same period, an increase of 12.3 percent.

#10 — Saturday is the Most Dangerous Day to Drive in the U.S.

Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to get behind the wheel. According to a study published by Avvo using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), out of the total 37,461 accidents recorded in 2016, 6,802 happened on Saturday.

Coming second and third were Friday with 5,826 car accidents and Sunday with 5,809 accidents. Tuesday was shown to be the safest day to drive as it had 53 percent fewer car accidents deaths compared to Saturday.

Know Your State’s Laws and Stay Safe

If you are a driver in any of the fifty states in the U.S., you are required to know the driving laws in your state. This can help reduce the number of car fatalities. There are some common traffic rules that are applied in all states.

For instance, all states require that drivers obey the speed limits and drive on the right-hand side of the road. However, be aware that speed limits can fluctuate from state to state, so be prepared just in case you visit a different state where the speed limit is lower or higher.

Here are a few driving rules that you may need to look out for a while driving:

  • It’s illegal to drink alcohol while driving in 49 of the 50 states in the U.S. The only exception is Mississippi
  • It’s illegal to drive with a dog in your lap in Hawaii and New Jersey
  • In New Jersey, driving if you have been awake for 24 hours is considered as drunk driving
  • It’s illegal to drive with headphones on in numerous states unless you’re using a hearing aid
  • In 39 states, it’s illegal to drive while watching television

Car crashes unfortunately happen, so making sure you’re properly insured is vital.