Facts + Statistics: Sports injuries

 
Sports injuries

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2020 bicycling accounted for about 426,000 injuries, the most of any category of sports and recreation. Exercise, with or without equipment, followed with about 378,000 injuries, while OHV, moped and minibike use  with 230,000 injuries, and skateboard, scooter and hoverboard use, with 218,00 injuries, ranked third and fourth.

Concern is growing about the risks of sports-related concussions, and lawsuits filed by injured professional football players have generated national headlines. The problem also affects thousands of young people who engage in a variety of sports. According to the NSC, being struck by another person or object is the leading cause of unintentional injury for teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. Sports-related concussions are a significant factor. The Brain Injury Research Institute estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million athletes annually suffer concussion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016, an estimated 273,272 children (age 17 or younger) were treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) for nonfatal traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) related to sports and recreation. The 2016 number is down 9.8 percent from a peak of 302,966 in 2012, possibly due to prevention efforts, changes in participation and changes in how care is sought for injured children. In the years from 2010 to 2016, the CDC reports that TBIs that occurred in contact sports accounted for approximately 45 percent of all sports and recreation related TBI ED visits. Activities associated with the highest number of ED visits were football, bicycling, basketball, playground activities and soccer.

The NSC reports that there were about 130,000 swimming injuries treated in EDs in 2020, with children under the age of 14 suffering half of all injuries. A report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that between 2018 and 2020, 78 percent of children treated in EDs for pool related nonfatal drowning injuries were younger than five years of age.

 
Sports Injuries By Number Of Injuries, 2020

 

      Number of injuries by age   
Sport, activity or equipment Injuries (1) Younger than 5  5 to 14  15 to 24  25 to 64  65 and older 
Bicycles and accessories 425,910 16,295 118,776 53,880 183,675 53,283
Exercise, exercise equipment 377,939 6,441 23,552 66,860 211,879 69,207
ATV's, mopeds, minibikes, etc. 229,974 4,390 40,836 57,705 113,531 13,512
Skateboards, scooters, hoverboards 217,646 6,099 81,327 63,955 60,869 5,396
Basketball 214,847 1,218 64,750 102,588 45,062 1,228
Swimming, pools, equipment 129,708 16,926 48,021 17,885 36,842 10,033
Football 122,181 362 55,970 50,698 14,711 440
Playground equipment 120,829 34,986 71,040 4,803 8,494 1,505
Trampolines 106,358 23,998 62,879 8,256 10,818 406
Soccer 81,452 966 32,904 34,253 13,297 32
Baseball, softball 70,209 1,885 24,854 22,189 18,932 2,349
Fishing 65,107 2,667 12,370 10,607 31,730 7,733
Skating (excl. In-line) 51,331 685 20,755 10,090 18,970 831
Horseback riding 44,012 582 7,335 7,274 23,704 5,118
Lacrosse, rugby, misc. ball games 29,134 469 6,729 7,960 6,899 7,076
Volleyball 23,597 81 8,134 9,683 5,549 151
Beach, picnic, camping equipment 22,578 3,064 5,013 2,133 8,809 3,558
Water skiing, tubing, surfing 21,754 242 3,417 7,652 9,882 562
Hockey 19,098 254 6,121 8,371 4,225 127
Racquet sports 16,360 95 1,481 1,650 6,254 6,880
Martial arts 15,820 165 4,063 3,511 7,579 503
Boxing 12,648 21 1,318 5,750 5,559 0
Nonpowder guns, BB'S, pellets 10,115 538 3,124 3,285 2,984 184
Track and field activities, equipment 10,071 78 3,664 4,641 1,611 76

(1) Treated in hospital emergency departments.

Source: National Safety Council analysis of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission NEISS data. National Safety Council. Injury Facts®.

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School sports

Young people aged 5 to 14 accounted for 50 percent of the football injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2017, according to data from the National Safety Council. This age group accounted for 45 percent of soccer injuries, 44 percent of baseball and 40 percent of lacrosse and rugby injuries treated in emergency rooms the same year. (see chart, Sports Injuries By Number Of Injuries).

 
Winter sports

In 2017 almost 14,000 individuals were injured while using toboggans, sleds and snow discs and required treatment in emergency rooms, according to the National Safety Council. According to a National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Fact Sheet, during the 10 years ending in 2017, 38 people died skiing or snowboarding per year on average. During the 2017-2018 season, 37 fatalities occurred out of the 53.3 million skier/snowboarder days reported for the season, down 19 percent from 44 fatalities in the 2016-2017 season. The fatality rate was less than one fatality (0.69 fatalities) per one million skier visits. Twenty-eight of the 2017/2018 season fatalities were skiers and 9 of the fatalities were snowboarders.

 
Bicycle crashes

Bicyclist fatalities had been declining steadily since 1975, and fell to a record low of 623 in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts. The data show that pedalcyclist fatalities averaged about 2 percent of total traffic fatalities from 1975 to 2019. Following the 2010 low, pedalcyclist (bicyclists and other cyclists including riders of two-wheeled, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles and unicycles) fatalities soared 36 percent to 846 in 2019.

In 2019, 417,485 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries associated with bicycles and bicycle accessories, according to the National Safety Council. This figure includes both preventable and intentional injuries as reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The number of people who biked to work peaked at about 904,000 commuters in 2014 but fell to about 806,000 in 2019, according to the League of American Bicyclists data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The average age of bicyclists killed in traffic crashes has been increasing over the last ten years, from 42 in 2010 to 48 to 2019 according to NHTSA. States with the highest pedalcyclist fatalities were Florida (161), California (133) and Texas (66). When ranked by fatality rates per 100,000 people, Florida ranked first with 0.75 fatalities per 100,000, followed by Delaware (0.72). In cities with over 500,000 residents, Tucson, AZ had the highest pedalcyclist fatality rate, at 1.09 per 100,000 people, followed by Jacksonville, FL with 0.99 per 100,000 people.

With better ways to gauge helmet safety, there still remains the problem of getting people to wear them. By some estimates only 18 percent of riders regularly wear helmets.

The FBI reports that 125,136 bicycles were stolen in 2019, down 2.9 percent from 2018. The average value of a stolen bicycle was $569 in 2019.

 
Total Motor Vehicle and Pedalcyclist Fatalities, 2010-2019 (1)

 

  Fatalities  
Year Total Pedalcyclist Pedalcyclists as
a percent of
total fatalities
2010 32,999 623 1.9%
2011 32,479 682 2.1
2012 33,782 734 2.2
2013 32,893 749 2.3
2014 32,744 729 2.2
2015 35,484 829 2.3
2016 37,806 853 2.3
2017 37,473 806 2.2
2018 36,835 871 2.4
2019 36,096 846 2.3

(1) Pedalcyclists are defined by the National Highway Safety Administration as bicyclists and othe cyclists including riders of two-wheeled, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles and unicycles.

Source: National Highway Traffic Administration.

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Pedalcyclists Killed And Fatality Rates By Age, 2019 (1)

 

Age group Killed Population
(000)
Fatality rate
per 100,000
population
Under 5 5 19,576,683 0.03
5 to 9 10 20,195,895 0.05
10 to 14 25 20,798,268 0.12
Children (14 and under) 40 60,570,846 0.07
15 to 19 46 25,324,253 0.18
20 to 24 32 17,363,257 0.18
25 to 29 48 23,509,016 0.20
30 to 34 59 22,431,305 0.26
35 to 39 60 21,737,521 0.28
40 to 44 52 19,921,623 0.26
45 to 49 61 20,397,751 0.30
50 to 54 82 20,477,151 0.40
55 to 59 101 21,877,391 0.46
60-64 90 20,571,146 0.44
65-69 80 17,455,001 0.46
70 to 74 37 14,028,432 0.26
75 to 79 25 9,652,665 0.26
80 and over 29 12,922,165 0.22
Seniors (65 and over) 171 54,058,263 0.32
Total (2) 846 328,239,523 0.26

(1) Pedalcyclists are defined by the National Highway Safety Administration as bicyclists and othe cyclists including riders of two-wheeled, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles and unicycles.
(2) Includes pedalcyclists of unknown age.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Bureau of the Census.

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Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Fatalities, Pedalcyclist Fatalities, And Fatality Rates By State, 2019 (1)

 

      Pedalcyclists
State Resident population
(000)
Total traffic
fatalities
Fatalities Percent of total
traffic fatalities
Fatalities per
100,000 population
 Alabama  4,903 930 6 0.6% 0.12
 Alaska  732 67 2 3.0 0.27
 Arizona  7,279 981 30 3.1 0.41
 Arkansas  3,018 505 3 0.6 0.10
 California  39,512 3,606 133 3.7 0.34
 Colorado  5,759 596 20 3.4 0.35
 Connecticut  3,565 249 3 1.2 0.08
 Delaware  974 132 7 5.3 0.72
 District of Columbia  706 23 1 4.3 0.14
 Florida  21,478 3,183 161 5.1 0.75
 Georgia  10,617 1,491 21 1.4 0.20
 Hawaii  1,416 108 4 3.7 0.28
 Idaho  1,787 224 4 1.8 0.22
 Illinois  12,672 1,009 12 1.2 0.09
 Indiana  6,732 809 16 2.0 0.24
 Iowa  3,155 336 9 2.7 0.29
 Kansas  2,913 411 8 1.9 0.27
 Kentucky  4,468 732 5 0.7 0.11
 Louisiana  4,649 727 22 3.0 0.47
 Maine  1,344 157 2 1.3 0.15
 Maryland  6,046 521 10 1.9 0.17
 Massachusetts  6,893 334 5 1.5 0.07
 Michigan  9,987 985 21 2.1 0.21
 Minnesota  5,640 364 11 3.0 0.20
 Mississippi  2,976 643 8 1.2 0.27
 Missouri  6,137 880 14 1.6 0.23
 Montana  1,069 184 3 1.6 0.28
 Nebraska  1,934 248 1 0.4 0.05
 Nevada  3,080 304 8 2.6 0.26
 New Hampshire  1,360 101 0 (2) (3)
 New Jersey  8,882 559 13 2.3 0.15
 New Mexico  2,097 424 9 2.1 0.43
 New York  19,454 931 46 4.9 0.24
 North Carolina  10,488 1,373 17 1.2 0.16
 North Dakota  762 100 2 2.0 0.26
 Ohio  11,689 1,153 25 2.2 0.21
 Oklahoma  3,957 640 13 2.0 0.33
 Oregon  4,218 489 12 2.5 0.28
 Pennsylvania  12,802 1,059 14 1.3 0.11
 Rhode Island  1,059 57 0 (2) (3)
 South Carolina  5,149 1,001 26 2.6 0.50
 South Dakota  885 102 1 1.0 0.11
 Tennessee  6,829 1,135 7 0.6 0.10
 Texas  28,996 3,615 66 1.8 0.23
 Utah  3,206 248 6 2.4 0.19
 Vermont  624 47 0 (2) (3)
 Virginia  8,536 831 13 1.6 0.15
 Washington  7,615 519 9 1.7 0.12
 West Virginia  1,792 260 3 1.2 0.17
 Wisconsin  5,822 566 14 2.5 0.24
 Wyoming  579 147 0 (2) (3)
 U.S. Total  328,240 36,096 846 2.3% 0.26

(1) Bicyclists are defined by the National Highway Safety Administration as pedalcyclists, which are bicyclists and othe cyclists including riders of two-wheeled, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles and unicycles.
(2) Less than 0.1 percent.
(3) Less than 0.01 per 100,000 population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, National Highway Safety Administration.

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Total Traffic Fatalities And Pedalcyclist Traffic Fatalities And Fatality Rates By City, 2019 (1)

 

      Pedalcyclists Fatality rate per 100,000 population
City (2) Resident
population
Total traffic
fatalities
Fatalities As a percent of
total traffic
fatalities
Total Pedalcyclist Pedalcyclist
rank (3)
New York, NY 8,336,817 214 24 11.2% 2.57 0.29 22
Los Angeles, CA 3,979,576 267 14 5.2 6.71 0.35 13
Chicago, IL 2,693,976 141 5 3.5 5.23 0.19 25
Houston, TX 2,320,268 256 16 6.3 11.03 0.69 4
Phoenix, AZ 1,680,992 205 8 3.9 12.20 0.48 6
Philadelphia, PA 1,584,064 90 2 2.2 5.68 0.13 30
San Antonio, TX 1,547,253 151 5 3.3 9.76 0.32 16
San Diego, CA 1,423,851 88 6 6.8 6.18 0.42 7
Dallas, TX 1,343,573 182 3 1.6 13.55 0.22 24
San Jose, CA 1,021,795 79 4 5.1 7.73 0.39 9
Austin, TX 978,908 91 3 3.3 9.30 0.31 18
Jacksonville, FL 911,507 149 9 6.0 16.35 0.99 2
Fort Worth, TX 909,585 95 0 (4) 10.44 (5) 32
Columbus, OH 898,553 74 1 1.4 8.24 0.11 31
Charlotte, NC 885,708 73 0 (4) 8.24 (5) 32
San Francisco, CA 881,549 39 1 2.6 4.42 0.11 31
Indianapolis, IN 876,384 100 3 3.0 11.41 0.34 14
Seattle, WA 753,675 24 2 8.3 3.18 0.27 23
Denver, CO 727,211 61 3 4.9 8.39 0.41 8
Washington, DC 705,749 23 1 4.3 3.26 0.14 28
Boston, MA 692,600 20 1 5.0 2.89 0.14 28
El Paso, TX 681,728 69 1 1.4 10.12 0.15 27
Nashville, TN 670,820 97 0 (4) 14.46 (5) 32
Detroit, MI 670,031 115 2 1.7 17.16 0.30 21
Oklahoma City, OK 655,057 83 2 2.4 12.67 0.31 18
Portland, OR 654,741 49 2 4.1 7.48 0.31 18
Las Vegas, NV 651,319 33 0 (4) 5.07 (5) 32
Memphis, TN 651,073 130 0 (4) 19.97 (5) 32
Louisville, KY 617,638 94 2 2.1 15.22 0.32 16
Baltimore, MD 593,490 44 2 4.5 7.41 0.34 13
Milwaukee, WI 590,157 55 1 1.8 9.32 0.17 26
Albuquerque, NM 560,513 101 4 4.0 18.02 0.71 3
Tucson, AZ 548,073 107 6 5.6 19.52 1.09 1
Fresno, CA 531,576 45 2 4.4 8.47 0.38 12
Mesa, AZ 518,012 44 3 6.8 8.49 0.58 5
Sacramento, CA 513,624 50 2 4.0 9.73 0.39 9
Atlanta, GA 506811 86 2 2.3 16.97 0.39 9

(1) Ranked by city population. Pedalcyclists are defined by the National Highway Safety Administration as bicyclists and other cyclists including riders of two-wheeled, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles and unicycles.
(2) Population of 500,000 or more.
(3) Cities with the same pedalcyclist fatality rate per million population receive the same rank.
(4) Less than 0.1 percent.
(5) Less than 0.01 per 100,000 population.

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

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Motorcyclist Fatalities And Fatality Rates, 2010-2019

 

Year Fatalities Registered
motorcycles
Fatality rate per
100,000 registered
motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled
(millions)
Fatality rate per
100 million vehicle
miles traveled
2010 4,518 8,009,503 56.41 18,513 24.40
2011 4,630 8,437,502 54.87 18,542 24.97
2012 4,986 8,454,939 58.97 21,385 23.32
2013 4,692 8,404,687 55.83 20,366 23.04
2014 4,594 8,417,718 54.58 19,970 23.00
2015 5,029 8,600,936 58.47 19,606 25.65
2016 5,337 8,679,380 61.49 20,445 26.10
2017 5,226 8,664,108 60.32 20,149 25.94
2018 5,038 8,659,741 58.18 20,076 25.09
2019 5,014 8,596,314 58.33 19,688 25.47

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

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Motorcyclist Injuries And Injury Rates, 2010-2019

 

Year Injuries Registered
motorcycles
Injury rate
per 100,000
registered motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled (millions)
Injury rate
per 100 million
vehicle miles traveled
2010 82,000 8,009,503 1,028 18,513 445
2011 82,000 8,437,502 968 18,542 441
2012 93,000 8,454,939 1,103 21,385 436
2013 89,000 8,404,687 1,056 20,366 436
2014 92,000 8,417,718 1,093 19,970 461
2015 89,000 8,600,936 1,032 19,606 453
2016 (1) 104,000 8,679,380 1,203 20,445 511
2017 89,000 8,664,108 1,023 20,149 440
2018 82,000 8,659,741 945 20,076 408
2019 84,000 8,596,314 975 19,688 426

(1) NHTSA began using police-reported crash data from the Crash Report Sampling System, replacing the National Automotive Sampling System
General Estimates System (GES). NCSA has also changed the methodology of estimating people nonfatally injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.

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

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Watercraft accidents

Federal law requires owners of recreational boats and non-commercial watercraft to register them. In 2020 there were 11.8 million registered recreational watercraft, about the same as in 2019. A recreational watercraft accident must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard: if a person dies or is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid; if damage to the boat or other property exceeds $2,000; if the boat is lost or if a person disappears from the boat.

The Coast Guard says that there was evidence of a significant rise in boating activity in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was supported by reports of increased boat sales, new insurance policies and increased claims, and towing assistance calls. In 2020, total recreational watercraft fatalities rose 25 percent from 2019 to 767 people killed, the highest since 1998 when there were 815 deaths. Accidents and injuries rose at about the same rates.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard alcohol, combined with typical conditions such as motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray, can impair a person's abilities much faster than alcohol consumption on land. Operators with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.10 grams per deciliter are estimated to be more than 10 times more likely to be killed in a watercraft accident than watercraft operators with zero BAC. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 353 recreational watercraft accidents in 2020 (6.7 percent of all accidents), accounting for 130 deaths (16.9 percent of all watercraft deaths) and 315 injuries (9.9 percent of all injuries). Other primary contributing factors were operator inexperience, accounting for 56 deaths, and operator inattention, resulting in 55 deaths.

 
Recreational Watercraft Accidents, 2016-2020 (1)

 

  Accidents Fatalities    
Year Total Involving
alcohol
use (2)
Total Involving
alcohol
use (2)
Injuries Property
damage
($ millions)
2016 4,463 350 701 133 2,903 $49
2017 4,291 323 658 118 2,629 46
2018 4,145 309 633 119 2,511 46
2019 4,168 330 613 128 2,559 55
2020 5,265 353 767 130 3,191 63

(1) Includes accidents involving $2,000 or more in property damage. Includes U.S. territories and offshore accidents.
(2) The use of alcohol by a boat's occupants was a direct or indirect cause of the accident.

Source: U.S. Department Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard.

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  • In 2020, 75 percent of fatal watercraft accident victims died by drowning, and of those, 86 percent were not wearing life jackets.
  • The most common types of watercraft involved in reported accidents in 2020 were open motorboats (50 percent), kayaks (15 percent), and pontoons (9 percent).

 
Top 10 States By Recreational Watercraft Accidents, 2020 (1)

 

Rank State Accidents Deaths People injured Property damage
($000)
1 Florida 804 72 514 $13,220.4
2 California 493 39 311 6,940.7
3 Texas 281 59 173 2,216.1
4 North Carolina 183 27 116 1,840.4
5 New York 175 28 124 2,201.8
6 Ohio 163 25 84 3,546.9
7 Arizona 162 10 107 1,015.5
8 Michigan 159 31 74 2,204.0
9 Tennessee 155 30 86 3,098.2
10 South Carolina 153 25 81 1,501.7

(1) Includes accidents involving $2,000 or more in property damage. Includes watercraft such as motorboats and sailboats and other vessels such as Jet Skis.

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard.

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OHV accidents

Children under the age of 16 accounted for 27 percent of all people injured in accidents involving off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in 2020, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 
OHV-Related Deaths And Injuries, 2016-2020 (1)

 

  Estimated number of deaths Estimated number of injuries (2)
    Younger than 16   Younger than 16
Year Total Number Percent
of total
Total Number Percent
of total
2016 763 110 14% 115,500 30,700 27%
2017 749 115 15 108,100 28,300 26
2018 699 73 10 95,000 24,800 26
2019 NA NA NA 96,000 25,800 27
2020 NA NA NA 112,300 30,400 27

(1) Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) including All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV); Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROV); and Utility-Terrain Vehicles (UTV)
(2) Emergency room-treated.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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