25+ Car Accident Statistics: Buckle Up!

Do you feel safe on the road?

The latest car accident statistics are an eye-opener.

Let’s see some important stats first:

Car Accident Statistics (Editor’s Pick):

  • 42,915 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the US in 2021.
  • Pedestrian fatalities increased by 13% in 2021.
  • 70% of car crash victims are men.
  • Alcohol-impaired driving causes 30% of all deadly car crashes.
  • 52.5% of drivers eat while driving.
  • Dogs represent a distraction for 31% of drivers.
  • 58% of teen car crashes are caused by distracted driving.
  • 1.35 million people die each year due to car accidents worldwide.

Did you know that an average of 6 million driving accidents happen in the USA each year?

And that 3 million people are injured each year in the US alone?

Also, every year, 2 million drivers get permanent injuries as a result of a car crash.

And how many cars are totaled each year? Between 12% and 14% of those involved in an accident.

Don’t know about you, but those statistics seem quite scary to us.

Wanna know more?

Here it comes:

Car Crash Statistics

With that many people driving, we can safely – or rather unsafely – say that vehicle crashes are a normal daily occurrence in America.

Let’s get started with the latest automotive accident statistics!

1. 42,915 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the US, in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

How many people die in car accidents every year in the US?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 38,000. But the fatalities in 2021 exceed the average.

The latest estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 42,915 people lost their lives in car crashes in the US in 2021.

This represents a 10.5% increase from 2020. Back then, 38,824 fatalities were reported. The 2021 figure is also the highest since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history.

2. The percentage of passenger car occupants’ fatalities decreased by 9% in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

According to the latest US car accident statistics, there were 564 more passenger car occupants fatalities in 2021, when compared to 2020.

Notably, the number of unrestrained occupants of passenger vehicle fatalities increased by 3% in 2021.

Unrestrained occupants are a danger to themselves and other passengers. The car crash survival rate for a passenger vehicle when not wearing a seatbelt is only 50%

3. The percentage of pedestrian and pedalcyclist fatalities increased in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

Fatality statistics show the number of pedestrian and pedalcyclists fatalities increased in 2021 by 13% and 5%, respectively.

These vulnerable road users have little to no protection from crash forces. The number of deaths has been on the rise since 2009.

4. Non-occupant fatalities represent almost 20% of overall traffic fatalities.

(Source: NHTSA)

The share of non-occupant fatalities (pedestrians and bicyclists) accounts for 19.4% of all fatalities.

As mentioned above, these road users are referred to as vulnerable. Of all crashes involving a bicyclist or pedalcyclist, over 80% resulted in an injury.

5. Urban fatalities increased by 15% in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

The total urban population has increased modestly at an annualized rate of 0.8% over the past five years. And with it, the number of traffic accidents has increased too.

According to NHTSA, fatalities in urban arterial areas increased by 15% in 2021. Urban interstate fatalities were up 11%, while deadly accidents on urban collector/local roads rose 20%.

By comparison, fatalities in rural arterial areas climbed 4%, while rural interstate fatal accidents were by 15%. A slight 1% increase was recorded in the rural collector/local areas.

6. Car crash fatalities in the 35-44 age group increased by 15% in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

How about other age groups?

Total estimated fatalities increased by 10% for the 25-34 age group, by 12% for the 45-54 age group, and by 14% for people 65+.

7. Men accounted for 72% of car crash victims in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

Traffic incidents tend to occur more with men than women. In 2021, 30,876 males died on the road. The figure represented a 10% increase from 2020.

8. Motorcyclist fatalities increased by 9% in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

Motorcyclists make up less than 1% of the total traffic. Yet, they accounted for 14.2% of all fatal road traffic accidents in 2021.

According to estimates, in the event of an accident, motorcyclists face an 80% risk of severe injury or death. This compares to just 20% for passenger vehicles.

9. Speeding-related fatalities increased by 5% in 2021.

(Source: NHTSA)

The number of people killed in speeding-related auto accidents rose from 11,258 in 2020 to 11,780 in 2021.

Needless to say, speeding is dangerous. But did you know that every 1% increase in speed produces a 4% increase in fatal car crash risk? It may not work as a car sticker slogan, but this estimate is enough to make every driver slow down.

11. Around 800 car crash deaths involving a drowsy driver occur every year.

(Source: NHTSA)

Drowsy driving mimics alcohol-impaired driving. According to estimates, 18 hours without sleep is similar to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%, or about four drinks!

Every year about 100,000 police-reported, drowsy-driving crashes result in nearly 800 fatalities and about 50,000 injuries. But the real number may be much higher, as there’s no test to determine whether a driver was drowsy at the time of a crash.

12. An estimated 31,720 people died during the first 9 months of 2021 in vehicle crashes.

(Source: NHTSA)

According to the early estimate report for the first 9 months of 2021, 31,720 people died in a motor vehicle traffic collision.

This represents a 12% increase when compared to the number of fatalities during the first 9 months of 2020. Back then the number was 28,325.

Distracted Drivers: Driving Statistics to Scare You at Night

You know what they say, don’t text and drive.

Now, let’s check out some more stats about distracted driving:

13. 23.7% of drivers admit they text while driving.

(Source: The Zebra)

According to a survey g done in 2021 by The Zebra, 23.7% of drivers have admitted that they are texting while driving.

Interestingly, 17.9% of those aged 18-24 felt the most pressure to respond to a text while driving. This is also the age group that is most often involved in accidents.

14. 36.4% of drivers agree that mobile devices distract you from driving safely.

(Source: The Zebra)

While mobile devices are a known cause of impaired driving, there is still a large percentage of drivers distracted by mobile devices.

Although 36.4% of the survey participants agreed that using a mobile device hinders their ability to drive safely, almost the same percentage (36%) admitted to using their phones while behind the wheel.

15. 52.5% of drivers eat while driving.

(Source: The Zebra)

Besides using a mobile device, there is another common reason for distracted driving.

Snacking or having a drink behind the wheel also has an effect on road safety. It’s best to avoid them. Food can wait, and safety is a priority.

Apparently, there’s raising awareness on the matter as the respondents who admitted eating while driving dropped by 4.2% from 2020.

16. 11.7% of drivers take a photo while driving.

(Source: The Zebra)

Taking a selfie is another type of smartphone-related distracted driving issue.

We found it hard to believe, but unfortunately, it’s true.

Making phone calls, texting, using a GPS app and taking a selfie can all cause you to take your eyes off the road.

17. Dogs represent a distraction for 31% of drivers.

(Source: The Zebra)

To lower your risk of a motor vehicle collision, you should consider using a kennel or a seatbelt if you are driving with your pet.

The majority of all drivers – or 80% – are driving with their pets. However, only 17% are using a pet restraint.

Your dog jumping in your lap while you’re driving is hardly a good idea.

18. 58% of teen car crashes are caused by distracted driving.

(Source: The Zebra)

Distracted driving is the cause of 58% of all car crashes involving teenage drivers, according to teenage car accident statistics.

And speaking of teenage drivers, did you know that they are considered some of the most high-risk drivers?

This is the reason why the average car insurance cost is higher for young drivers.

Drunk Driving Stats and Facts

Do you know what percentage of car crashes are caused by drunk driving?

Here are some stats which put into perspective how dangerous this really is:

19. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities account for 30% of all deadly car crashes.

(Source: NHTSA)

Driving under the influence is one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents.

In the US, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities account for around 30% of all fatalities. What’s more, every day, about 32 people in the US die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 45 minutes.

In 2021, those instances increased by 5%.

Driving while intoxicated impairs the ability of drivers to drive safely on the road. There are services like Designated Driver, Uber, taxis and, of course, public transport, that can help you get home safely.

In fact…

20. Ride-sharing has decreased alcohol-related US traffic fatalities by 6.1%.

(Source: National Bureau of Economic Research)

Researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research have found that using ride-sharing services, such as Uber, has decreased US alcohol-related traffic fatalities by 6.1% and reduced total US traffic fatalities by 4%. This translates into 214 lives saved from alcohol-related fatalities and 494 total lives saved in 2019.

21. 17.3% of drivers have driven while buzzed.

(Source: The Zebra)

On a more positive note, this is a decrease from 2020’s admission rate of 18.9%. But, only 23.7% of survey respondents in 2021 said that four or fewer drinks prevent them from drinking. In 2020, this was more than a quarter of all respondents.

22. Millennials are most likely to drink and drive.

(Source: The Zebra)

According to 37.8% of respondents to The Zebra’s survey on intoxication and driving, millennials are most likely to get behind the wheel drunk.

Around 29.4% identified Generation Z as the most likely to drive drunk, while 18.9% believed that Generation Z had the highest risk of driving under alcohol influence. Baby Boomers gathered 13.9% of the vote.

Road Accident Statistics Worldwide

Car crash trends are similar worldwide. Read on for the global numbers:

23. 1.35 million people die each year due to car accidents.

(Source: CDC)

Approximately 3,700 people die each day as a result of car accidents.

That’s more than a million car accident deaths per year! Of those drunk driving deaths per year worldwide are around 400,000.

24. 93% of all road deaths are in low or middle-income countries.

(Source: WHO)

Most road deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles.

And while we see a decreasing trend in most high-income countries, fatalities in the poor ones have not decreased since 2013.

25. The African region has the highest rate of road traffic fatalities.

(Source: WHO)

According to the World Health Organization, Road traffic injury death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe.

Notably, even within high-income countries, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be involved in road traffic crashes.

26. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged 5-29.

(Source: CDC)

The leading cause of death in the world for young people is car accidents. They are also the 8th cause of death for people of all ages.

Seeing so many young lives being lost is quite saddening.

Fatal Car Accidents by State

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps track of all of the traffic fatalities statewide. The most recent info is from 2020.

So, let’s check out the states with the most fatal car crashes.

Top 5 states with most fatal crashes 2020:

  • Texas – 3,874
  • California – 3,847
  • Florida – 3,331
  • Georgia – 1,664
  • North Carolina – 1,538
  • Ohio – 1,230
  • Tennessee – 1,217

Automobile Deaths per Year

These past 40 years, there have been fewer fatalities caused by car crashes.

Here are the most recent numbers:

Car accident deaths per year in the US

2021 – 42,915 (preliminary estimate)
2020 – 38,824
2019 – 36,096
2015 – 35,484
2010 – 32,999
2005 – 43,510
2000 – 41,945
1995 – 41,817

How Many People a Year Die in Car Accidents?

Each year, 1.35 million people die in car accidents worldwide.

Let’s look at the numbers from the USA:

How many people die in car accidents in the USA?

According to data from NHTSA, approximately 30,000-40,000 people die in car accidents in America each year.

How many people die a day?

Every day, more than 100 people die in car accidents in the USA.

In 2021, each 14 minutes someone was killed in a car accident.

Seat Belt Lives Saved Statistics

If everyone on the road wore a seat belt, the number of traffic collision deaths would be greatly reduced.

Here are some important seat belt stats and facts:

  • Roughly 15,000 lives are saved every year by seat belt usage.
  • Buckling up in the front seat of a car can reduce your risk of a fatal injury by 45%.
  • Wearing a seat belt in a light truck can reduce your risk of a fatal injury by 60%.
  • Seat belts have saved over 375,000 lives since 1975.

Key Takeaways

While you can’t control how others drive, you can still do these things to lower your chance of getting in a traffic collision.

For starters, always wear a seat belt. And make sure that everyone else in your vehicle is also restrained.

While on the road, turn off all non-important notifications and leave your phone in your pocket.

And don’t forget that snacking and drinking can distract you too!

If you have been drinking, try to get an alternative ride, such as a ridesharing service.

Like it or hate it, Uber indirectly contributes to safety on the road. These Uber revenue statistics prove it.

Now let’s get back to these car accident statistics.

The main point we can make out from these numbers is:

Drive safe everyone! 

There are people who love you.


After I got my degree in translation and interpreting, I started working in a typical office. To get away from my nine-to-five job, I ventured into freelance writing. One thing led to another, and I ended up creating content for SpendMeNot. I have been involved with this site ever since its launch — first as a writer and now as a manager.

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