Car accidents are sadly commonplace. While most of these events are simple fender benders and don’t cause injuries, in the US around 2 million people per year suffer permanent injuries and approximately 40,000 people die in vehicle accidents.
Fatal car crashes
Although full data for 2019 are not yet available, early estimates indicate that car crash fatalities for 2019 will be slightly lower than for 2018. In the first part of the year there were:
- 26,730 deaths
- A 2.2% decrease from this period of time in 2018
Slightly more than half (58%) of all fatal car crashes involve only one vehicle. Fatal crashes are more common on Saturdays, particularly in the evening and from midnight to 3 am. Fatal car accidents are also significantly more likely to occur during the summer and early fall months. Around half of the fatal accidents occur at night.
Fatal car crashes are evenly split between vehicle-vehicle collisions and vehicle collisions with a stationary object like a pole or tree.
Although data for pedestrians killed by vehicles is not yet available for 2019, in 2018, 6,227 pedestrians were killed. Deaths of pedestrians hit an all-time low of around 4000 in 2009 and have been increasing every year since then. Experts speculate the popularity of larger vehicles like SUVs, which cause more pedestrian damage, may be involved in this increase. The vast majority of pedestrian deaths occur at night.
The vehicles involved
Only around 8% of fatal car accidents involve large tractor-trailer trucks, while 95% involve a car, SUV, or pickup truck. Accidents involving motorcycles are 16% more likely to result in a serious injury or death than accidents involving other vehicles.
The drivers involved
Among fatal car accidents:
- 40% were people driving under the influence
- 30% involved excessive speed
- 33% were caused by reckless or irresponsible driving
- 20% involved a driver under the age of 21, despite that age group only comprising 5.4% of all drivers
Among all accidents, an estimated 25%, or 1.6 million crashes, involved a driver using a cell phone while driving. A recent study of drivers in a simulator showed that drivers holding a cell phone and using it had their risk of a crash go up by 2 to 3.5 times. A similar increase was not seen when the drivers were using a hands-free cell phone device.