U.S. Motor Vehicle Crashes Killed More than 36,000 in 2019
More than 36,000 people died on the nation’s roads and highways in 2019, a year in which motor vehicle crashes killed an average of one person every 15 minutes and injured five others roughly every minute.
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Climbed 9.7% from 2010 to 2019
According to final figures recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6,756,000 police-reported traffic accidents occurred in the United States in 2019. Those crashes resulted in the deaths of 36,096 people, a 9.7% increase since 2010. An additional 2,740,000 others were injured.
At least 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes that year. More than half (55%) were the occupants of passenger cars, while 45% involved the occupants of SUVs, pickups, and other light trucks.
18-wheelers and other heavy commercial trucks were involved in crashes that left 5,005 people dead – down one compared to 2018. Seventy-one percent (3,544) of those fatalities were occupants of other vehicles, 18% (892) were occupants of large trucks, and 11% (569) were nonoccupants (pedestrians, pedalcyclists, etc.).
South Carolina had the highest highway fatality rate in 2019, logging 1.73 deaths for every 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). Massachusetts had the lowest, with just .51 deaths per 100 million VMT. Texas had a fatality rate of 1.25 in 2019, while Louisiana had a fatality rate of 1.41.
Impaired Driving, Speeding, and Failure to Buckle Up
Poor driving behaviors, including driving while impaired, speeding, and failure to wear a seatbelt, contributed to a significant portion of roadway fatalities in 2019.
That year, 10,142 people (an average of one every 52 minutes) died in crashes that involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver. The percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes was the highest for motorcycle riders (29%), compared to drivers of passenger cars (20%), light trucks (19%), and large trucks (2%).
Speeding contributed to 9,478 crash fatalities in 2019. Thirty-one percent of male drivers in the 15- to 20-year-old age group and 18% of female drivers in the 21- to 24-year-old age group involved in fatal crashes were speeding, the highest among all age demographics. Speeding drivers involved in fatal accidents were also more likely to have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit than those who had not been speeding.
Of the 22,215 vehicle occupant fatalities reported in 2019, 10,815 (49%) were using their seat belts, and 9,466 (43%) were unrestrained at the time of the crashes.
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