With nearly 300 million registered vehicles in the United States (and 229 million licensed drivers driving over 3 trillion miles per year), there are bound to be car accidents. According to car accident stats from the Bureau of Transportation, around 13 car accidents occur every minute, totaling to over 5 million car accidents per year.
Crashes can happen for various reasons and we’re here to break down the why, where, and how to help keep you safe on the streets.
WHY DO CAR ACCIDENTS HAPPEN?
Car accidents can happen for many reasons and, in some cases, they can be the result of a combination of factors. For instance, was the driver (or drivers) driving carefully? Were they under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Were there slippery or icy road conditions that caused the driver to lose control?
Maybe a parent was distracted by crying children before switching lanes. Perhaps a street light was out and a driver couldn’t see a large pothole. Maybe a traffic light was broken so several cars collided in an intersection.
Even if you’re driving carefully, it’s still possible to get into a car crash. To learn how to avoid one in the first place, check out this post on how to prepare for a car accident.
CAR ACCIDENTS BY STATE
In general, western and southern states tend to experience the most motor vehicle crash deaths, partly because they have less access to public transportation (i.e. more drivers on the road) while also having higher speed limits and rates of drunk driving.
For instance, in 2020, Montana had one of the highest crash death rates in the country, experiencing 19.6 crash deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 4.9 deaths in Massachusetts. Montana also has the highest DUI rate in the country and in 2020, 51% of all their car accidents involved intoxicated drivers.
In the same year, Texas experienced 13.3 crash deaths per 100,000, which is right in the middle, but they had the most fatal car crashes of any state overall. While this is partially due to Texas having the second-largest population in the country, it could also be due to Texas having the highest speed limits in the country.
WHY DO SO MANY ACCIDENTS HAPPEN CLOSE TO HOME?
While many of us might feel safe driving in our own community, numerous studies have shown that most car accidents happen close to home. One main reason is that young and inexperienced drivers (like teenagers) are likely to drive near their homes and that lack of driving experience makes them more likely to have an accident.
Many drunk and drowsy drivers are also more likely to be driving near their homes, versus driving impaired on the other side of town. If a drunk driver’s local bar is only a mile or two from home, they may think it’s safe to drive home while under the influence.
Similarly, someone who had a long, exhausting day at work may not think twice about driving home, not realizing that their fatigue and drowsiness mean they are a less alert (and, therefore, more dangerous) driver. By making sure to get enough sleep and avoid driving when you are tired, you can help keep everyone safe on the road.
Drivers may also feel overconfident while driving on familiar roads near their homes so they may talk, text, or eat while driving. These distractions can lead to accidents near their homes.
If you do find yourself in a car crash, whether it’s on the highway or in front of your home, it’s important to understand how auto insurance works after an accident.
IMPORTANT CAR ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Not all car accidents are created equally. Fender benders are annoying, inconvenient, and expensive, but there is no denying that the worst car accidents are fatal ones. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 38,824 lives were lost in traffic accidents throughout the US in 2020, the most recent year they have data for.
This was the highest number of fatalities since 2007!
Understanding the leading causes of fatal car accidents might help you adjust your driving to avoid a life-threatening crash.
LEADING CAUSES OF FATAL CAR ACCIDENTS
- Drunk Driving: Drunk driving is the leading cause of fatal car accidents, contributing to over 17,000 deaths per year.
- Speeding: Speeding is the second highest contributor to fatal car accidents, as it can increase the risk of collisions, fatalities, and severe injuries that happen in car accidents.
- Distracted Driving: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), distracted driving is another leading cause of fatal car accidents, with 6% of all fatal car crashes that occurred in 2020 being a result of distracted driving. About 12% of these distracted drivers report using their phones while driving, and an staggering 64% of these drivers report simply being “lost in thought” or daydreaming.
- Drowsy Driving: The NHTSA reports that 633 traffic fatalities in 2020 resulted from drowsy driving, accounting for about 2% of all traffic fatalities that year.
WHICH VEHICLE IS INVOLVED IN MOST CAR ACCIDENTS?
There is no single bad vehicle that will cause a crash, and there is also no special vehicle that will prevent one. It’s possible to experience a car crash in any vehicle and, as described above, it often depends on whether the driver is drinking, drowsy, or distracted.
That said, some vehicles are more likely to result in serious injuries or death in a crash. Sedans and compact cars, which are known as passenger cars, tend to see theworst kind of impacts.
The occupants of vans, pickup trucks, and SUVs, on the other hand, tend to suffer lower rates of severe injuries and deaths. Part of this is because there are simply more sedans on the road than there are pickup trucks and SUVs (though this is rapidly changing).
The other reason is that larger vehicles tend to have four-wheel drive (which provides a better grip on icy roads) and more “crumple space” at the front. This crumple space absorbs most of the impact in a dangerous collision, which minimizes danger to passengers.
Whether you experience a minor fender bender or a serious crash, you might be considering settling an accident claim without a lawyer. While this certainly is possible, know that without an experienced lawyer, you may run into challenges and miss out on benefits you didn’t know existed. Regardless of what or where you’re driving, we hope you’re doing it safely and that these car accident stats were helpful.
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