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72 Car Accident Statistics 2020/2021: Causes, Injuries & Risk Factors

by Arthur Zuckerman

Traveling by automobile may be the most convenient way to go from point A to point B, but it poses a lot of dangers should one disregard traffic rules and safety procedures. Car accidents are one of the world’s leading causes of death, as they claim over a million lives each year, more than 30,000 in the United States alone.

Aside from countless injuries and the loss of lives, vehicular accidents account for economic losses. The expenses incurred from treatments, the possible loss or absence from employment, and the funeral costs, among others, have a negative effect on a country’s GDP. This is why there should be a conscious effort from the public and the government sector to nip the most common cause of car accidents in the bud.

We’ve compiled these car accident statistics showing the causes, injuries, risk factors, the fatalities involved, and their impact all across the globe and on the United States.  

car accident data

Global car accident statistics

Currently, there are over a billion vehicles plying the roads around the world. Of which, thousands will figure in a road accident, and a majority of those will occur in low- and medium-income countries. Aside from car occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and those riding bicycles will be involved in many of these incidents. 

From the data we’ve gathered, it’s easy to see why car accidents have long been compared to pandemics and have galvanized nations to enact safety laws and procedures.

  • Road accidents are the eighth leading cause of death globally.
  • Car accidents kill more people than AIDS and tuberculosis.  
  • 1.35 million people are killed in road accidents each year.
  • Every 24 seconds, someone dies on the road.
  • Road accidents cost most nations 3% of their GDP.
  • Road accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged 5 – 29.
  • 73% of all road accidents occur among young men below 25.
  • Men below the age of 25 are three times more likely to die from a car crash than females of the same age.
  • About 3,700 people are killed on the road daily from vehicular accidents.
  • Road traffic injuries worldwide cost around $518 billion.
  • 54% of the world’s vehicles are in developing countries.
  • Over 50% of all road accidents globally involved pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists.
  • Although the number of deaths continues to increase, it has stabilized when set alongside today’s global population and decreased relative to the number of motor vehicles.

World's Leading Causes of Death

World's Leading Causes of Death
Ischaemic Heart Disease: 16.6

Ischaemic Heart Disease

World's Leading Causes of Death
Stroke: 10.2


World's Leading Causes of Death
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: 5.4

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

World's Leading Causes of Death
Lower Respiratory Infections: 5.2

Lower Respiratory Infections

World's Leading Causes of Death
Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: 3.5

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

World's Leading Causes of Death
Lung, Bronchus, Trachea Cancers: 3.0

Lung, Bronchus, Trachea Cancers

World's Leading Causes of Death
Diabetes Mellitus: 2.8

Diabetes Mellitus

World's Leading Causes of Death
Road Accidents: 2.5

Road Accidents

World's Leading Causes of Death
Diarrhoeal Diseases: 2.4

Diarrhoeal Diseases

World's Leading Causes of Death
Tuberculosis: 2.3


World Health Organization

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Stats in developing countries

Developing countries are car accident epicenters based on statistics. Aside from having most of the world’s vehicles, these nations have to contend with congested cities, faulty urban planning, and a ton of traffic management woes. This has led to an alarming rate of car crash deaths.   

  • 90% of car crashes worldwide happen in low and middle-income nations.
  • There has been no reduction of car crash deaths in any low-income country since 2013.
  • The rate of car crash deaths among low-income countries is three times higher than that of high-income countries.
  • The rates of car crash fatalities are the highest in Africa (26.6/100,000 people) and Southeast Asia (20.7/100,000 people).

Source: World Atlas 2018

United States car accident statistics

As the world’s second-largest automobile market, the US had around 273.6 million registered motor vehicles in 2018. That number is expected to increase exponentially with the yearly population growth and more people reaching legal age. And so does the car accident fatality rate, unfortunately. 

Delving into the data, we noticed that teenage drivers are at a higher risk of suffering from a vehicular collision than their older counterparts. Special measures that cater to this particular demographic should be set. 

  • In 2019, around 38,800 people lost their lives due to car crashes.
  • Around 90 people die every day from car crashes in the US.
  • The car crash fatality rate in the US is 12.4 deaths for every 100,000 people
  • Around 4.4 million people were seriously injured by car crashes.
  • Drivers aged 16-19 are nearly three times more likely to figure in a car crash compared to older drivers.
  • The rate of serious injuries from car crashes dropped by 2% in 2019.
  • The US has the most number of car crash deaths among all high-income nations. Its death rate is 50% higher than those of countries like Japan, Canada, Australia, and some of the nations in Western Europe.
  • Car crashes in the US yield $380 million annually in medical costs.
  • The economic cost of car crashes in the US is about $230.6 billion. Combine that with societal impact and the figure balloons to $871 billion.
  • Saturday is the most fatal day of the week in regard to car crashes in the US, followed by Friday and Sunday.
  • Tuesday has the least number of car crashes.
  • The deadliest time-period is 4 PM-6:59 PM, followed by 7 PM-9:59 PM and 1 PM-3:59 PM.
  • The time period with the least number of car crashes is 7 AM-9:59 AM.
  • In the US, there is an average of 1.13 car crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled.
  • In 2018, around 53 % of car crashes fatalities occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
  • There were 273.6 million motor vehicles registered in the US in 2018.
  • Around 6.3 million cars are sold in the US each year.
  • The US is the second to China in having the world’s largest automobile market, with about 17.2 million new light-vehicle registrations in 2018.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2018


Comparing states

The rate of car accident fatalities varies from state to state, underscoring the different topographical, economic, and industrial features of each region. Some states have higher car accident deaths, while others reflect that pedestrians are more at risk than car and SUV occupants. 

  • Montana owns the highest percentage of single-vehicle crash fatalities at 71%, while Nebraska holds the highest rate of multiple-vehicle crash fatalities at 57%.
  • Vermont accounts for the largest number of car occupant deaths by state (49%), while Hawaii had the lowest (15%).
  • Wyoming recorded the highest percentage of deaths involving pickup and SUV occupants (49%), while the District of Columbia had the lowest (3%).
  • Hawaii recorded the highest incidence rate of pedestrian deaths (35%) while Maine and Wyoming had the lowest (both at 5%).
  • In 2017, the US states with the least car crashes were Alaska, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • In 2018, the US states that experienced over a 13% drop in car accident fatalities are Vermont (-31%), New Hampshire (-30%), District of Columbia (-21%), South Dakota (-21%), Alaska (-16%), Nevada (-14%), and Connecticut (-14%).
  • In 2018, the US States that experienced an increase in car crash fatalities by over 5% was Maine (35%), Wyoming (32%), Delaware (20%), Tennessee (10%), Nebraska (8%), and Ohio (8%).

Source: World Atlas


Car accident risk factors

A car accident can occur at any given moment, even for defensive drivers and careful pedestrians. After all, road mishaps are caused by a multitude of reasons, from aggressive driving to driving under the influence, to poor weather conditions, down to simple distractions like food and mobile phones. While it doesn’t completely eliminate risks, driving safely with seatbelts on reduces the likelihood of figuring in an accident. 

  • The risk of pedestrians being hit on the road rises by 4.5 times when a car travels from 50 km/h to 65 km/h.
  • Drivers who use mobile phones while driving are four times more likely to get involved in a car accident than those who don’t.
  • The behavioral risk factors involved in car crashes include speed, drunk driving, the improper use of seatbelts, the lack of helmets, the lack of child restraints, drug driving, and distracted driving.
  • 88% of pedestrian travel occur in unsafe roads.
  • In 2016, 10,497 car crash fatalities were caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Around 15% of alcohol-related car crash fatalities in the US involve drivers whose blood alcohol concentrations are below the legal limit. 55% of deaths in such cases involve people other than the driver.
  • In the US, 9 people are killed, and over a thousand are injured due to distracted driving daily.
  • In 2017, 9% of all teen motor vehicle crash deaths involved distracted driving.
  • Americans have been driving more in recent years, placing them at risk for car crashes.
  • Blood alcohol consumption was reported for 65% of car crash deaths involving drivers.
  • Reaching for objects increases the risk of a car crash by 7 times.
  • 660,000 drivers were found to have been using electronic devices while driving.
  • 14% of all distracted driving deaths involved the use of a mobile phone.
  • In 2017, 42% of high school students who drove sent a text or email while driving.
  • Every year, around 100,000 police-reported crashes involve driver fatigue or drowsy driving. Of that number, 1,550 were killed, and 71,000 were injured.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2018

Most common causes of car accidents in the US

Among all the causes of traffic collisions, there are five that stand out as the most prevalent in the US. They cause a majority of all road incidents, most of which involve teenagers and young adults. Identifying them can help shape legislation to protect our citizens better. 

  1. Distracted driving. Drivers should always be focused on the road. However, there are moments when they take a bit of time to check their mobile phones, consume food and beverages, converse with other car occupants, and gaze at scenes outside the window. In a lot of cases, a momentary distraction is all it takes for an accident to occur.
  2. Drunk driving. Statistics suggest that drivers in the US continue to drink and drive despite the laws that prohibit them from doing so. A whopping 65% of car accident fatalities reported the presence of alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream.
  3. Overspeeding and reckless driving. Living your driving life in the fast lane ceases to be blissful when the stats reflect that around 112,000 drivers are ticketed daily. Worse, speeding accounts for about 27% of road fatalities and 19% of injuries.
  4. Driving in inclement weather. Bad weather brings forth a slew of threats, which include poor visibility, slippery roads, and the driver not noticing other vehicles or pedestrians. Sometimes it’s better to wait it out until the weather clears up; certainly better than being part of this statistic: 23% of all road accident fatalities.
  5. Beating the red light. Running the red light puts a driver at risk since the adjacent lane has a green light, and a lot of vehicles tend to fly right out of the gate when given the go signal.

Road safety statistics

The WHO, in its 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, revealed that most nations around the world had implemented road safety procedures that take into account the common risk factors as well as assigning special teams to help enact those laws. 

The statistics we’ve compiled in this section display how effective some of those safety measures are. 

  • Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death for drivers and front-seat occupants by 45 – 50%. The risk of death and serious injuries from back seat occupants is reduced by 25%.
  • Seatbelts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017.
  • The use of child restraints reduces the risk of death by 60%.
  • 132 nations have funded national strategies for road safety.
  • 109 countries have national targets to reduce the number of road accident fatalities.
  • The national usage rate of seatbelts in 2019 is 90.7%.

Leveraging car accident facts and figures

The staggering number of fatalities caused by road accidents is alarming, considering that it outpaces some of the world’s deadliest diseases in terms of kill count. Despite the presence of road safety laws, a large number of road collisions still occur each day. Thankfully, groups like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are coordinating with local governments to address this concern. 

The government sector can leverage the data not just to build or improve legislation, but also to monitor their progress and ascertain the viability of their best-laid plans. Insurance companies, on the other hand, can base their premiums on the most prevalent causes of car accidents and the age groups that are most prone to them. Meanwhile, car companies can center their safety features on reducing the effects of the biggest risk factors. 

At the end of the day, we need to go by car or by public transport for the advancement of our lives and careers. Exercising some caution in the way we travel might not be as thrilling as a quick drive to town, but it leads to more exciting years of existence on this planet.  


  1. Global status report on road safety 2018
  2. Road traffic injuries
  3. Every 24 Seconds Someone Dies On The World’s Roads; Bloomberg Philanthropies Gives $240 Million To Do Something About It
  4. Road Traffic Injuries and Deaths—A Global Problem
  5. Road & Traffic Safety
  6. Motor Vehicle Deaths Estimated to Have Dropped 2% in December 2019
  7. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths
  8. Road Safety Facts
  9. Teen Drivers: Get the Facts
  10. The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes
  11. Average day of accidents in America
  12. Fatality Facts 2018
  13. Number of Motor Vehicles Registered in the United States from 1990 to 2018
  14. US States with the Most Car Accidents
  15. Many Car Crash Deaths Involve Alcohol Levels Below Legal Limit: Study
  16. Distracted Driving
  17. Record Number of Miles Driven in US Last Year
  18. Death by Text Message? Stats Show How Technology is Killing Us
  19. Texting and Driving Statistics
  20. Drivers are Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel
  21. The Leading Causes of Car Accidents
  22. Statistics Says: Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
  23. Seat Belts

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