Facts + Statistics: Highway safety

The cost of auto insurance can be affected by a vehicle's cost and crashworthiness, or the degree to which it can protect occupants from the effects of an accident, but also by drivers' safety habits. Insurers support raising awareness about safe driving practices, such as seatbelt usage and avoiding driving while under the influence of alcohol. These initiatives reinforce public safety and help to reduce costs for policyholders and insurers. 

 
Traffic Deaths, 2012-2021

 

Year Fatalities Annual
percent
change
Fatality rate
per 100 million
vehicle miles
traveled
Fatality rate
per 100,000
registered vehicles
2012 33,782 4.0% 1.14 12.72
2013 32,893 -2.6 1.10 12.21
2014 32,744 -0.5 1.08 11.92
2015 35,484 8.4 1.15 12.61
2016 37,806 6.5 1.19 13.13
2017 37,473 -0.9 1.17 12.91
2018 36,835 -1.7 1.14 12.40
2019 36,355 -1.3 1.11 12.15
2020 38,824 6.8 1.34 13.04
2021 42,915 10.5 1.33 NA

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Motor Vehicle Traffic Deaths By State, 2019-2020

 

  Number of deaths     Number of deaths  
State 2019 2020 Percent
change
State 2019 2020 Percent
change
Alabama 930 934 0% Montana 184 213 16%
Alaska 67 64 -4 Nebraska 248 233 -6
Arizona 979 1,054 8 Nevada 304 317 4
Arkansas 511 638 25 New Hampshire 101 104 3
California 3,719 3,847 3 New Jersey 558 584 5
Colorado 597 622 4 New Mexico 425 398 -6
Connecticut 249 295 18 New York 934 1,046 12
Delaware 132 116 -12 North Carolina 1,457 1,538 6
D.C. 23 36 57 North Dakota 100 100 0
Florida 3,185 3,331 5 Ohio 1,153 1,230 7
Georgia 1,492 1,664 12 Oklahoma 640 652 2
Hawaii 108 85 -21 Oregon 493 508 3
Idaho 224 214 -4 Pennsylvania 1,059 1,129 7
Illinois 1,009 1,194 18 Rhode Island 57 67 18
Indiana 810 897 11 South Carolina 1,006 1,064 6
Iowa 336 337 0 South Dakota 102 141 38
Kansas 410 426 4 Tennessee 1,136 1,217 7
Kentucky 732 780 7 Texas 3,619 3,874 7
Louisiana 727 828 14 Utah 248 276 11
Maine 157 164 4 Vermont 47 62 32
Maryland 535 567 6 Virginia 831 850 2
Massachusetts 336 343 2 Washington 538 560 4
Michigan 986 1,084 10 West Virginia 260 267 3
Minnesota 364 394 8 Wisconsin 567 614 8
Mississippi 642 752 17 Wyoming 147 127 -14
Missouri 881 987 12 United States 36,355 38,824 7.0

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Drivers In Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes By Age, 2020

 

  Licensed drivers Drivers in fatal
crashes
Age group Number Percent of
total drivers
Number Involvement
rate (1)
16 to 20 11,526,490 5.1% 4,440 38.52
21 to 24 14,041,261 6.2 4,884 34.78
25 to 34 39,900,499 17.6 11,933 29.91
35 to 44 38,208,444 16.6 8,896 23.28
45 to 54 37,372,539 16.7 7,731 20.69
55 to 64 39,417,228 17.4 7,294 18.5
65 to 74 29,871,852 12.7 4,116 13.78
Over 74 17,795,854 7.6 2,810 15.79
Total 228,195,802 100.0% 53,890 (2) 23.62

(1) Per 100,000 licensed drivers in each age group.
(2) Includes drivers under the age of 16 and of unknown age.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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Driving Behaviors Reported For Drivers And Motorcycle Operators Involved In Fatal Crashes, 2020

 

Behavior   Number (1) Percent
Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limit or racing 10,295 19.1%
Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication 6,246 11.6
Operating vehicle in a careless manner 3,958 7.3
Failure to yield right of way 3,663 6.8
Failure to keep in proper lane 3,337 6.2
Distracted (phone, talking, eating, object, etc.) 2,968 5.5
Operating vehicle in erratic, reckless or negligent manner 2,356 4.4
Failure to obey traffic signs, signals, or officer 2,250 4.2
Overcorrecting/oversteering 1,744 3.2
Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, building, trees, etc.) 1,533 2.8
Drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blacked out  1,165 2.2
Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, etc. 1,138 2.1
Driving wrong way on one-way traffic or wrong side of road 1,060 2
Making improper turn 368 0.7
Other factors 5,921 11
None reported 8,659 16.1
Unknown 16,885 31.3
Total drivers (2) 53,890 100.0%

(1) Number of drivers and motorcycle operators.
(2) The sum of the numbers and percentages is greater than total drivers as more than one factor may be present for the same driver.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Fatal Crashes By First Harmful Event, Type Of Collision, 2020

 

Type of collision Number Percent of total fatal crashes
Collision with moving motor vehicle    
Angle 6,432 18%
Rear end 2,428 6.8
Sideswipe 950 2.7
Head on 3,631 10.2
Other/unknown 181 0.5
     Total 13,622 38.1%
Collision with fixed object    
Pole/post 1,595 4.5%
Culvert/curb/ditch 2,741 7.7
Shrubbery/tree 2,586 7.2
Guard rail 932 2.6
Embankment 906 2.5
Bridge 181 0.5
Other/unknown 2,008 5.6
     Total 10,949 30.6%
Collision with object, not fixed    
Parked motor vehicle 459 1.3
Animal 194 0.5
Pedestrian 5,982 16.7
Pedalcyclist 923 2.6
Train 79 0.2
Other/unknown 430 1.2
     Total 8,067 22.6%
Noncollision    
Rollover 2,694 7.5
Other/unknown 362 1
     Total 3,056 8.5%
Total 35,766 (1) 100.0%

(1) Includes 72 fatal crashes with unknown first harmful events.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Holiday Driving, 2016-2020 (1)

 

  Holiday period (1)
  New Year’s Day Memorial Day Independence Day Labor Day Thanksgiving Day Christmas Day
Year Deaths Percent
alcohol-
impaired (2)
Deaths Percent
alcohol-
impaired (2)
Deaths Percent
alcohol-
impaired (2)
Deaths Percent
alcohol-
impaired (2)
Deaths Percent
alcohol-
impaired (2)
Deaths Percent
alcohol-
impaired (2)
2016 279 37% 392 37% 397 42% 384 37% 439 36% 318 35%
2017 330 37 345 37 529 38 345 37 470 36 299 38
2018 325 39 430 38 175 41 433 36 433 31 425 35
2019 428 36 453 37 499 39 438 39 406 29 129 38
2020 NA NA 397 41 479 41 506 38 NA NA NA NA

(1) The length of the holiday period depends on the day of the week on which the holiday falls. Memorial Day and Labor Day are always 3.25 days; Thanksgiving is always 4.25 days; and New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and Christmas are 3.25 days if the holiday falls on Friday through Monday, 4.25 days if on Tuesday or Thursday, and 1.25 days if on Wednesday. See https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/holidays/holiday-introduction/.
(2) The highest blood alcohol concentration (BAC) among drivers or motorcycle riders involved in the crash was 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher (the legal definition of drunk driving in most states).

NA=Data not available.

Source: National Safety Council based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

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Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths By Month, 2020

 

Month Deaths Percent of total Rank
January 2,485 7% 9
February 2,450 7 10
March 2,369 7 11
April 2,127 6 12
May 2,865 8 8
June 3,374 9 5
July 3,483 10 3
August 3,523 10 1
September 3,426 10 4
October 3,522 10 2
November 3,168 9 6
December 2,974 8 7
Total 35,766 100%  

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Fatal Crashes Involving Distracted Drivers, 2020

 

  Crashes Drivers Fatalities
Total fatal crashes 35,766 53,890 38,824
Distraction-affected fatal crashes      
Number of distraction-affected fatal crashes 2,880 2,968 3,142
Percent of total fatal crashes 8% 6% 8%
Cellphone in use in distraction-affected fatal crashes      
Number of cellphone distraction-affected fatal crashes 354 356 396
Percent of fatal distraction-affected crashes 12% 12% 13%

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Additional resources

Background

Background on: Teen drivers

Background on: Older drivers

Background on: Distracted driving

Facts + Statistics

Drowsy driving

Aggressive driving

Distracted driving

Teen drivers

IIHS Highway Safety Topics

NHTSA Traffic Safety Fact Sheets

NHTSA Crash Stats

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Background on: Alcohol-impaired driving
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Background on: Marijuana and impaired driving
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Background on: Motorcycle crashes