Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld

February 3, 2023

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Car crashes remain a leading cause of death in the United States, with over 40,000 annual fatalities. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), your chances of dying in a car crash are about one in 103 for any given year.

That means at least one death out of every 103 people on the road. While the odds may seem small, they still represent an alarming rate of preventable deaths that can be avoided by taking proper safety precautions while driving.

According to the NSC, an American’s lifetime odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 107 as of 2019.

These odds of dying in car accidents are calculated using mortality, population, and life expectancy data from the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program and the US Census Bureau.

Despite this sobering statistic, the risk of dying in a car accident can be significantly reduced with simple measures such as wearing a seatbelt, following speed limits, and avoiding distracted driving.

Adhering to these safety guidelines can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in fatal car crashes.

What are the chances of dying in a car crash?

Data suggests the average American’s chance of dying in a car crash is about 1 in 107.

What are the Chances of Dying in a Car Crash?

Car traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with an estimated 13.5 million crashes yearly resulting in 3.2 million injuries and 36,000 fatalities.

The average American has a 1% chance of dying in a car accident, but this can increase depending on driving habits, such as longer commutes and night driving, gender, age, and mental stability.

Yearly Motor Vehicle Crash Data

Fatal accidents significantly cause wrongful death and injury in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a traffic accident occurs every 60 seconds in the US.

In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians were killed by reckless or negligent drivers, with low-income areas disproportionately affected.

Moreover, as shocking as the fatality rate is, the risk of a car crash injury is nearly 100 times higher.

The average driver in the United States will make an automobile claim for damages from collisions about once every 17 years.

After getting your license at 16, you will most likely be involved in about three traffic accidents in your lifetime. The number of car accidents that occur each year is unknown, but it is estimated to be millions.

What Vehicles Are Involved in Most Car Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Center for Health Statistics, a motor vehicle crash occurs every 60 seconds in the US, resulting in 42,060 traffic deaths and 2.4 million serious injuries in 2020.

Ford-F Series is the most commonly found vehicle in fatal car accidents in America and the best-selling vehicle in the US.

Other vehicles involved in traffic deaths include:

  • BMW 4 Series
  • Land Rover
  • Range Rover Evoque
  • BMW X1
  • Audi A5

Factors in the Severity of a Car Crash

A car accident’s average odds and severity vary greatly depending on many critical factors.

  • Speed limit
  • Type of vehicle
  • Road conditions
  • Driver behavior
  • Performance errors

As your speed increases by 1%, your risk of a fatal car accident increases by 4%. Similarly, heavier vehicles such as trucks or SUVs can cause more damage than smaller cars.

Poor road conditions can also increase the risk of an accident becoming more severe; for example, wet roads or icy patches can make it harder to control a vehicle and lead to more severe collisions.

Reckless driving behaviors such as speeding or not following traffic laws can also contribute to the severity of an accident. It is one of the reasons young drivers have the highest probability of dying in a car crash.

Injuries sustained in car accidents can range from minor scrapes and bruises to soft tissue injuries and life-threatening injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or paralysis.

Lack of a Seat Belt

The lack of a security belt is a significant cause of death in automobile accidents. In 2018, 9,648 people died from not wearing a security belt while driving.

It is impossible to know if the driver would have survived had they been wearing a security belt, but the number of deaths could likely have been lower if seat belts had been used.

Seat belts are designed to keep drivers and passengers safe in an accident. They help reduce the risk of severe injury or death by keeping occupants securely in their seats and preventing them from being thrown inside the vehicle.

Wearing a security belt can also help protect against head injuries and other trauma caused by sudden stops or collisions. Despite this, many people still choose not to wear one when driving, leading to unnecessary yearly fatalities.

Drivers need to understand the importance of wearing a security belt and ensure everyone in their vehicle is buckled up before they start driving.

Driver’s Age and Gender

Drivers aged 16-22 have the highest risk of dying in a car accident. It is due to their inexperience and lack of driving knowledge.

Older drivers tend to be safer on the road than younger drivers, as they have more experience and can better anticipate potential dangers.

Age is also a factor in determining the fatality risk of dying in a car crash, with inexperienced and younger drivers at the highest risk of being killed in car crashes, decreasing the risk until age 75. However, the risk of death in an automobile collision increases again at that age.

Statistics of Dying in a Car Crash

The statistics surrounding drivers’ gender and dying in a car crash are alarming. Men are three times more likely to die in a car accident than women and are involved in more fatal accidents yearly.

It is vital for all drivers, regardless of age or gender, to practice safe driving habits and always be aware of their surroundings while behind the wheel. Drivers should also ensure they are up-to-date on vehicle maintenance and safety features such as airbags and seat belts.

Time Spent Driving

The time spent driving is a significant factor in the risk of dying in a car accident. Commuters, delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, and other individuals who travel extensively are at an increased risk for fatal vehicle accidents due to the time they spend on the road.

Distance traveled, regularity of travel, and length of time spent driving all play a role in determining the risk of death from a car accident.

Driving behavior accounts for 95% of car accidents, and decision and recognition errors account for 33% and 40%, respectively.

Driving Habits

Poor driving habits are a significant factor in dying in a car crash, with driver error responsible for 94% of all incidents. Decision errors and speeding are the two most significant causes of collisions, accounting for 33% and 40%, respectively.

Speeding increases the risk of death in a car crash by 4%. Performance issues, such as steering and braking problems, account for 11% of car crash deaths.

About 30% of drivers in single-car accidents are killed by drug and alcohol use. 13% of drivers killed in multiple car accidents have tested positive for drug and alcohol usage.

The odds of dying in a car crash are lower than from an accidental opioid overdose and heart disease.

Crash Type

Car incidents, pedestrian collisions, and bicycle crashes are responsible for a significant portion of transportation deaths. According to recent statistics, these crashes account for 38% of all fatalities.

Multi-car collisions are the most deadly type of crash, with 44% of vehicular deaths occurring in multi-car wrecks from certain angles.

Sideswipes are the safest type of crash, accounting for 8% or less of fatalities. Rear-end and front-end incidents contribute to the remainder of deaths.

Effects of Drunk Driving on the Chances of a Lethal Car Accident

Drunk driving is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly increases the chances of a lethal car accident.

Knowing your blood alcohol content (BAC) can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to drive, and those with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.10 should not get behind the wheel due to impaired judgment, memory, and reaction time.

Additionally, avoiding driving if feeling uncomfortable due to intoxication, weather, age, or other factors is essential.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Typical car accident injuries include:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Amputations
  • Severe burns
  • Chest injuries
  • Internal organ damage

These injuries cost the economy about $7.5 billion in lost productivity yearly due to missed work. They also cost injured people about $463 billion in medical bills.

Devastating Consequences for Car Accident Victims and Families

Car accidents can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. Injuries sustained in a crash can range from minor to life-threatening, and the financial losses associated with medical bills and lost wages can be overwhelming.

Victims of car accidents may be able to seek compensation for their injuries, financial losses, and other damages under personal injury laws. To receive payment, it is necessary to prove that another person’s negligence or recklessness caused the accident.

What Happens When a Surviving Spouse or Deceased’s Estate Files a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The family members may have a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. Under wrongful death laws, a wrongful death occurs when a person’s death happens because of someone else’s negligence.

When a family member dies in a car crash, the surviving spouse, immediate family members, or personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.

Filing a wrongful death claim allows survivors to seek compensation for damages, including:

  • The decedent’s pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and loss of future income
  • Reasonable funeral and burial costs

Punitive damages could be awarded if it can be proven that the responsible party was negligent or reckless in causing the accident.

The wrongful death action requires evidence proving that a certain level of negligence caused the accident, resulting in death.

Hiring an experienced car accident law firm specializing in motor vehicle crashes and wrongful death lawsuits is vital at times like these.

An experienced car accident lawyer will review injury statistics and investigate all aspects of the deaths caused by the reckless driver under attorney-client relationship confidentiality.

In Conclusion

Car crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States and can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. Taking certain precautions, such as wearing a seat belt and avoiding intoxicated driving, can help reduce the risk of a fatal car accident.

Additionally, understanding data and statistics related to car accidents can identify risky behaviors that should be avoided. If you or any family members have been injured in a car accident, you can usually contact your trusted lawyer for a free consultation on your wrongful death claim.


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