Jason Stephens | May 8, 2021 | Car Accidents
The odds of dying in a car crash are one in 107. Roughly speaking, you have a less than 1% chance of dying in a car crash during your daily drive.
But this statistic does not tell the whole story. Many variables increase your risk of dying in a car crash. For example, your age, gender, and driving habits affect the likelihood that you will be killed in a car accident.
Fatal Car Crash Statistics
Car accidents are among the top three causes of preventable deaths. The only two preventable causes of death with greater death rates are opioid overdoses and falls. But these three causes pose similar risks. The odds of dying due to opioid overdose are one in 92. The odds of dying due to a fall are one in 106.
By comparison, the odds of dying in a pedestrian accident are about five times lower than dying in a car accident. Dying in a motorcycle accident is about eight times less likely than dying in a car accident.
According to the National Safety Council, the U.S. has about 13.5 million car crashes every year. Of these, about 3.1 million crashes result in an injury that is severe enough to require medical treatment. And about 36,000 crashes result in at least one death.
Remember that these statistics only describe the average likelihood of dying in a car accident. Several factors increase an individual’s risk.
Some of the most important factors include:
Age of the Driver
A driver’s age is one of the most accurate predictors of fatality risks in a car accident. Young drivers have the highest risk for a fatal car accident. That risk falls as the driver gets older until they hit age 75. For drivers over 75, the risk rises again.
The drop-off in risk is significant as a driver gets older. A 19-year-old driver has double the risk of dying in a car accident as a 65-year-old driver.
Gender of the Driver
A driver’s gender also provides a statistically significant indicator of a car accident death. Male drivers are over three times more likely to die in a car accident compared to female drivers.
Driver’s Driving Habits
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver behavior causes 94% of car crashes. Recognition errors cause about 41% of driver-related crashes. These errors include inattention, improper lookout, and distracted driving.
Decision errors account for about 33% of crashes attributed to driver behavior. Decision errors include accidents caused by speeding, misjudging the speed or position of other vehicles, and illegal maneuvers.
Speeding may provide one of the clearest indicators of risk. As your speed increases by 1%, your risk of a fatal car accident increases by 4%.
Performance errors result in about 11% of crashes caused by drivers. Performance errors include steering errors and braking errors.
Non-performance errors cause about 7% of driver-caused crashes. Non-performance includes drowsy driving and medical events that inhibit proper driving.
Driving while intoxicated substantially increases the risk of a fatal car crash. Over 30% of drivers killed in single-car accidents had drugs or alcohol in their systems. About 13% of drivers killed in multiple-car accidents tested positive for drugs or alcohol.
But driving sober around intoxicated drivers also increases your risk. The most likely time of day for a fatal car accident is Saturday night leading into Sunday morning. The second-most likely time of day for traffic fatalities is Friday night leading into Saturday morning. Drunk and high drivers account for the increase in fatal accidents during the weekends.
Amount of Driving
As you drive more, your risk of dying in a car accident will go up. This takes into account the distance you drive, the frequency of your drives, and the duration of your drives.
Commuters, delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, road trippers, and other people who put a lot of miles on their cars have a higher risk of a fatal car crash.
Type of Crash
Some types of crashes have a higher risk of death than others. Single-car crashes, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents produce about 38% of traffic fatalities.
But multi-car crashes account for about 42% of all fatal crashes. Multi-car crashes involve more energetic collisions than those with stationary objects or people.
Multi-car collisions at an angle produce the most fatalities by far, coming in at over 44 percent. These crashes often happen when a vehicle turns left across oncoming traffic and collides with an oncoming vehicle. The crashes typically impact the area where drivers and passengers have the least protection — the side door.
At this angle, the airbags cannot save the occupants from the impact. And the seatbelt can increase the risk of injury by holding the occupants in a seat at the point of impact.
Sideswipes produce the fewest deaths at just under 8%. Rear-end collisions and front-end collisions account for the remaining fatalities.
What Are the Odds of a Car Crash Injury?
As shocking as the fatality rate is, the risk of a car crash injury is nearly 100 times higher. In 2019, the most recent year with complete statistics, about 39,000 people died in a car accident. That same year, over 4.5 million people sustained an injury in a car accident.
These injuries cost the economy about $7.5 billion in lost productivity every year due to missed work. They also cost injured people about $463 billion in medical expenses.
In many cases, you may be able to seek compensation for these losses. When a car crash leads to the death of a loved one, it may result in a wrongful death lawsuit. If you’ve been injured in a car accident or lost a loved one due to someone else’s poor driving, it’s always a good idea to seek qualified legal representation.