In 1972, 54,589 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions in the United States. The highest number in any one year in the history of our country. For several decades, highway safety gradually improved. In 2014, car accident deaths hit a six-decade low. Sadly, the trend has been reversed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that car accident deaths hit a sixteen-year high in 2021.
This raises an important question: What are the odds of dying in a car accident? The answer depends on many different factors, including how much you drive and how safely you drive. That being said, approximately 1% of all deaths in the U.S. happen in car crashes. Here, our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of your odds of being killed in an accident.
Know the Data: Odds of Being Killed in a Car Accident
In 2021, NHTSA reported that an estimated 42,915 were killed in motor vehicle collisions nationwide. It was one of the worst years for highway safety in two decades. The Provisional Mortality report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that nearly 3.5 million total deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2021. This means that 1.21% of all deaths reported in the United States last year happened in car crashes.
The data for 2021 is relatively similar to the data for other years. Motor vehicle collisions typically account for somewhere between 0.9% and 1.25% of U.S. deaths. In other words, a car accident will be the eventual cause of death for approximately 1% of people nationwide. The lifetime risk of car accident death for the average American is around 1%.
An Overview of the Factors That Affect Your Chances of Dying in a Car Crash
Not everyone is equally likely to be involved in a serious car accident. While the lifetime risk of car accident death for the average person in the United States is around 1%, each person’s individual risk varies widely depending on their lifestyle. Here is an overview of the key factors that affect your risk of being killed in a car accident.
- Driving Behavior: Your individual risk is dramatically affected by your own driving behavior. Risky driving will spike your risk of being killed in a car crash. For example, federal highway safety data shows that more than 30% of all deadly accidents in the U.S. are caused by drunk drivers. If you avoid intoxicated driving, you immediately cut the risk of being killed in a car accident. Other risky behaviors—most notably texting and driving—also increase your risk of being involved in a fatal crash.
- Your Age and Gender: Age and gender are both risk factors for serious car accidents. The data is clear; Male drivers are more likely to engage in risky driving behavior. As a group, they are more likely to be involved in deadly accidents. Age matters as well. Inexperienced drivers (teeangers) are far more likely to be involved in deadly accidents.
- Location: Deadly car accidents are far more likely to happen in certain parts of the country. Indeed, the per-vehicle-mile-traveled car accident fatality rate is nearly three times higher in the worst performing states than it is in the best performing states. Unfortunately, Florida is consistently near the bottom when it comes to highway safety.
- Miles Driven/Traveled: It is relatively straightforward, but the reality is that being in a motor vehicle always carries some level of risk. Even if you do everything right, you could still end up the victim of someone else’s negligence. The number of miles driven/traveled impacts your overall car accident risk.
What Percentage of Car Accidents are Fatal?
The vast majority of car accidents do not result in fatalities. While the data is a little bit murky as many minor crashes are not properly reported, an estimated 13 million crashes happen nationwide each year. A little less than 40,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents happened in 2021. Taken together, this means that approximately 1 in 300 car accidents lead to fatalities. Still, with car accidents happening as frequently as they do, that is a lot of lives ruined each year.
What are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash in a Given Year?
The lifetime risk of being killed in a car accident for the average American is slightly higher than 1%. The average life expectancy in the United States is around 78 years old. This means that the odds that the average person in the United States will be killed in a car accident in any given year is around 1 in 750. Undoubtedly, that number is a lot higher than most people are comfortable with. Remember, the risk varies by person. There are proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk. Safe and defective driving habits make a big difference.
What are the Odds of Being Injured in an Auto Accident?
The odds of being injured in a crash are a lot higher than the odds of being killed in a crash. More than 2.2 million people were injured in car crashes in the United States in 2021 alone. This means that approximately 1 in 130 people nationwide are required to seek medical attention for a car accident injury in any given year. Of course, your individual risk varies based on many factors. If you were injured in a crash, you should consult with an attorney for a car accident.
What are the Most Common Injuries Caused by Car Accidents?
Car accident injuries vary widely. Some people are lucky enough to escape with a few bumps and bruises. Others suffer catastrophic, even life-changing physical harm. Some of the most common car accident injuries reported in Fort Lauderdale include:
- Soft tissue damage (whiplash);
- Broken bones;
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
- Amputations; and
- Spinal cord damage.
Tips for Avoiding Auto Accidents in Florida
The thing you can do to avoid your risk of being killed in a car accident is to practice safe driving behaviors. Here are three tips for avoiding auto accidents in South Florida:
- Get plenty of rest. Fatigued driving is dangerous driving.
- Never drive while intoxicated. More than one-third of traffic deaths are linked directly to drunk driving.
- Put your cell phone away. Distracted driving—particularly texting and driving—can increase your risk of a crash by more than 1000 percent.
Chances of Being Killed in a Car Crash Compared to Other Risks
How does the lifetime risk of being killed in a motor vehicle crash in the United States compare to other lifetime risks? Here is an overview of some other notable risk factors:
- Heart Disease: Major risk. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for 20% of the U.S. deaths. Of course, heart disease risk varies based on age, lifestyle, and genetics. Car crashes pose a higher risk to a 20-year-old than does heart disease. However, heart disease poses a far greater risk for senior citizens.
- Cancer: Major risk. Similar to heart disease, cancer poses a huge risk to older people in the United States. More than 15% of all U.S. deaths are linked to cancer.
- Fall Accidents: Similar risk to cars. Nearly as many people are killed in fall accidents as are killed in motor vehicle collisions. Indeed, approximately one percent of Americans who die each year are killed in a fall accident. These happen both in the workplace and in the home.
- Violence: Approximately half the risk of car accidents. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 24,000 people are killed by violence nationwide each year. Firearms account for three quarters of homicides. That means that the lifetime risk of being killed in a car accident is about twice as high as the lifetime risk of being murdered. Of course, individual risk varies dramatically.
- Commercial Plane Crashes: Virtually zero risk. While approximately one percent of Americans die in car accidents, no American died in a commercial plane crash in 2021. The risk is so low that it cannot be calculated.
Digging Deeper Into the Data: Odds of Dying in a Car Crash by Age and Gender
As noted previously, the car accident fatality risk rate is not the same for everyone. There are some key demographic factors that impact the risk of being involved in a deadly crash:
- Age and Car Accident Risk: Younger and more inexperienced drivers are generally at a higher risk of being involved in a deadly accident. Per vehicle mile traveled, teenage drivers (16 to 19) have by far the highest risk. The risk of a crash gradually drops as a person ages. However, the risk starts to rise again for senior drivers—particularly those over 75.
- Gender and Car Accident Risk: Men are at a higher risk of being killed in a car accident. As reported by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), males account for approximately two-thirds of motor vehicle accident fatalities in the United States. Young males are at an especially high risk. Males 16 to 29 are highly overrepresented in traffic deaths.
Know the States With Highest and Lowest Fatal Car Accident Rates
Car accident fatality rates vary substantially by state. So which states have the highest and lowest risk? Here is an overview of the best and worst performing states in 2020 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
- The Five States with the Highest Car Accident Fatality Rate: Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Florida.
- The Five States with the Lowest Car Accident Fatality Rate: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Utah.
The Steps to Take if You are Hurt in a Car Accident
Were you or a loved one hurt in a car accident in Broward County? It is essential that you know the right steps to take to protect your safety and your rights. Here is what you need to do after being injured in a car accident in Fort Lauderdale:
- Stop your vehicle and exchange information;
- Call the police and report the accident;
- Seek medical attention (emergency care always comes first);
- Take pictures and try to document the crash;
- Avoid providing a recorded statement to an opposing insurance company; and
- Consult with an experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer.
Why Should a Person Hire BK Law for a Car Crash in Fort Lauderdale
The car accident claims process is complicated. It is normal to have a lot of questions and concerns after a serious accident. At Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC, we are devoted to protecting the rights and interests of people and families dealing with the aftermath of a serious crash. More specifically, our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers are ready to:
- Listen to your story and answer any legal questions about what happens next;
- Carefully investigate the motor vehicle collision—with a focus on securing evidence;
- Represent you in all correspondence with insurance company representatives; and
- Take your car accident injury claim as far as needed to get successful results.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Today
At Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC, our Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers have a proven record of success across a wide range of motor vehicle accident claims. We also have experience handling wrongful death claims. Contact us today to set up your free, fully private consultation. Our firm handles personal injury and wrongful death claims in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and throughout the surrounding region in South Florida.