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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 32,885 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2010, the lowest level since record keeping began in 1949. Motor vehicle deaths in 2010 were down 2.9 percent from 33,883 in 2009, despite the fact that the number of vehicle miles traveled increased by 1.6 percent in 2010, compared with 2009. The fatality rate, measured as deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, was 1.10, the lowest rate ever recorded and down from 1.15 in 2009. NHTSA property damage figures shown below are based on accidents reported to the police and do not include fender bender accidents.

 

MOTOR VEHICLE CRASHES, 2001-2010
Year Fatal Injury Property damage only Total crashes
2001 37,862 2,002,710 4,282,391 6,322,963
2002 38,491 1,928,984 4,348,233 6,315,708
2003 38,477 1,924,912 4,364,566 6,327,955
2004 38,444 1,861,617 4,280,966 6,181,027
2005 39,252 1,816,105 4,303,993 6,159,350
2006 38,648 1,745,924 4,188,641 5,973,213
2007 37,435 1,711,000 4,275,000 6,024,000
2008 34,172 1,630,000 4,146,000 5,811,000
2009 30,862 1,517,000 3,957,000 5,505,000
2010 30,196 1,542,000 3,847,000 5,419,000

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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TRAFFIC DEATHS, 2001-2010
Year  Fatalities Annual percent change Fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled Fatality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles
2001 42,196 0.6% 1.51 19.07
2002 43,005 1.9 1.51 19.06
2003 42,884 -0.3 1.48 18.59
2004 42,836 -0.1 1.44 18.00
2005 43,510 1.6 1.46 17.71
2006 42,708 -1.8 1.42 16.99
2007 41,259 -3.4 1.36 16.13
2008 37,423 -9.3 1.26 14.53
2009 33,883 -9.5 1.15 13.06
2010 32,885 -2.9 1.10 NA

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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  • The number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes rose by 1.2 percent from 2.22 million in 2009 to 2.24 million in 2010.
  • The injury rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 75 in both 2009 and 2010.

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle occupants accounted for 83 percent of traffic deaths in 2010. Motorcycle riders accounted for 14 percent. Pedestrians accounted for another 13 percent; pedalcyclists and other nonoccupants accounted for the remainder.

 

MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC DEATHS BY STATE, 2006-2007
  Number of deaths 
State 2006 2007 Percent change
Alabama  1,207 1,110 -8.0%
Alaska  74 84 14.0
Arizona  1,293 1,066 -18.0
Arkansas  665 650 -2.3
California  4,240 3,974 -6.3
Colorado  535 554 3.6
Connecticut  311 277 -11.0
Delaware  148 117 -21.0
D.C. 37 44 19.0
Florida  3,357 3,214 -4.3
Georgia  1,693 1,641 -3.1
Hawaii  161 138 -14.0
Idaho  267 252 -5.6
Illinois  1,254 1,249 -0.4
Indiana  902 898 -0.4
Iowa  439 445 1.4
Kansas  468 416 -11.0
Kentucky 913 864 -5.4
Louisiana  987 985 -0.2
Maine  188 183 -2.7
Maryland  652 614 -5.8
Massachusetts  429 417 -2.8
Michigan  1,086 1,088 0.2
Minnesota  494 504 2.0
Mississippi  911 884 -3.0
Missouri  1,096 992 -9.5
Montana  264 277 4.9
Nebraska  269 256 -4.8
Nevada  431 373 -13.0
New Hampshire  127 129 1.6
New Jersey 771 724 -6.1
New Mexico  484 413 -15.0
New York  1,454 1,333 -8.3
North Carolina  1,554 1,675 7.8
North Dakota  111 111 0.0
Ohio  1,238 1,257 1.5
Oklahoma  765 754 -1.4
Oregon 478 455 -4.8
Pennsylvania  1,525 1,491 -2.2
Rhode Island  81 69 -15.0
South Carolina  1,045 1,066 2.0
South Dakota  191 146 -24.0
Tennessee  1,284 1,210 -5.8
Texas  3,531 3,363 -4.8
Utah  287 299 4.2
Vermont  87 66 -24.0
Virginia  962 1,027 6.8
Washington  633 568 -10.0
West Virginia  410 431 5.1
Wisconsin  724 756 4.4
Wyoming 195 150 -23.0
United States 42,708 41,059 -3.9%

 

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

 

DRIVERS IN MOTOR VEHICLE CRASHES BY AGE, 2009
Age group Number of licensed drivers Percent of total Drivers in fatal crashes Involvement rate (1) Drivers in all crashes Involvement rate (1)
Under 16 409,526 0.2% 181 NA 148,000 NA
16 to 20 12,913,024 6.2 5,051 39.12 1,325,000 10,261
21 to 24 14,053,321 6.7 4,597 32.71 1,146,000 8,155
25 to 34 36,326,817 17.3 8,610 23.70 1,908,000 5,252
35 to 44 38,158,133 18.2 7,757 20.33 1,694,000 4,439
45 to 54 41,665,892 19.9 7,664 18.39 1,603,000 3,847
55 to 64 33,156,841 15.8 5,276 15.91 994,000 2,998
65 to 74 19,124,755 9.1 2,868 15.00 480,000 2,510
Over 74 13,810,077 6.6 2,550 18.46 315,000 2,281
Total 209,618,386 100.0% 45,230 (2) 21.58 9,614,000 (2) 4,586

(1) Per 100,000 licensed drivers.
(2) Includes drivers of unknown age.

NA=Not applicable.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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MOTOR VEHICLE DEATHS PER 100,000 PERSONS BY AGE, 2009
MOTOR VEHICLE DEATHS PER 100,000 PERSONS BY AGE, 2009

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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SEX OF DRIVERS INVOLVED IN CRASHES, 2000-2009 (1)
  Fatal crashes Injury crashes
  Male Female Male Female
Year Number Rate (2) Number Rate (2) Number Rate (2) Number Rate (2)
2000 41,443 43.27 14,682 15.48 2,192,408 2,289 1,572,734 1,659
2001 41,548 43.38 14,829 15.53 2,089,927 2,182 1,546,973 1,620
2002 41,995 43.03 14,876 15.34 2,000,043 2,049 1,481,476 1,528
2003 42,177 42.95 15,106 15.43 1,989,702 2,026 1,524,785 1,557
2004 41,876 42.06 15,272 15.38 1,911,852 1,920 1,482,315 1,493
2005 42,947 42.84 14,967 14.92 1,836,711 1,832 1,425,161 1,421
2006 41,912 41.49 14,661 14.43 1,762,552 1,745 1,387,324 1,366
2007 40,764 39.83 14,101 13.67 1,708,000 1,669 1,333,000 1,292
2008 36,825 35.60 12,536 11.99 1,596,000 1,543 1,276,000 1,221
2009 32,612 31.34 11,756 11.18 1,487,000 1,429 1,217,000 1,157
 
  Property damage-only crashes Total crashes
  Male Female Male Female
Year Number Rate (2) Number Rate (2) Number Rate (2) Number Rate (2)
2000 4,558,957 4,760 2,903,579 3,062 6,792,808 7,092 4,490,995 4,737
2001 4,517,730 4,717 2,903,319 3,041 6,649,205 6,942 4,465,121 4,677
2002 4,436,198 4,545 2,999,111 3,093 6,478,236 6,638 4,495,463 4,636
2003 4,527,515 4,610 3,019,961 3,084 6,559,394 6,679 4,559,852 4,657
2004 4,404,779 4,424 3,037,126 3,058 6,358,507 6,387 4,534,713 4,566
2005 4,357,188 4,347 3,007,038 2,998 6,236,846 6,222 4,447,166 4,435
2006 4,232,184 4,190 2,967,964 2,922 6,036,648 5,976 4,369,949 4,302
2007 4,329,000 4,230 3,058,000 2,964 6,077,764 5,939 4,405,101 4,270
2008 4,115,000 3,978 2,940,000 2,812 5,747,825 5,556 4,228,536 4,045
2009 3,839,000 3,689 2,879,000 2,738 5,358,612 5,150 4,107,756 3,906

(1) Drivers age 16 and over, including motorcycle riders and restricted and graduated drivers license holders in some states.
(2) Rate per 100,000 licensed drivers.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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DRIVING BEHAVIORS REPORTED FOR DRIVERS AND MOTORCYCLE OPERATORS INVOLVED IN FATAL CRASHES, 2009
Behavior Number Percent
Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit 9,654 21.3%
Failure to keep in proper lane or running off road 7,696 17.0
Under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication 6,957 15.4
Inattentive (talking, eating, etc.) 4,196 9.3
Failure to yield right of way 3,067 6.8
Overcorrecting/oversteering 2,062 4.6
Failure to obey traffic signs, signals or officer 1,922 4.2
Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, other
vehicle, object, nonmotorist on roadway, etc.
1,801 4.0
Driving wrong way in one-way traffic or on wrong side of road 1,382 3.1
Operating vehicle in erratic, reckless, careless or negligent manner 1,347 3.0
Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, buildings, trees, etc.) 1,205 2.7
Drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blacked out 1,202 2.7
Making improper turn 1,168 2.6
Other factors 7,602 16.8
None reported 15,795 34.9
Unknown 1,009 2.2
Total drivers (1) 45,230 100.0%

(1) The sum of the numbers and percentages is greater than total drivers as more than one factor may be present for the same driver.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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CRASHES BY FIRST HARMFUL EVENT, TYPE OF COLLISION AND CRASH SEVERITY, 2009
  Crash severity    
  Fatal Injury Property damage only Total crashes
Type of collision Number Percent of total fatal crashes Number Percent of total injury crashes Number Percent of total property damage only crashes Number Percent of total crashes
Collision with moving motor vehicle                
Angle   5,637 18.3% 448,000 29.5% 965,000 24.4% 1,418,000 25.8%
Rear end   1,674 5.4 448,000 29.5 1,283,000 32.4 1,733,000 31.5
Sideswipe   757 2.5 58,000 3.8 367,000 9.3 426,000 7.7
Head on   3,007 9.8 60,000 4.0 63,000 1.6 126,000 2.3
Other/unknown   115 0.4 2,000 0.1 15,000 0.4 17,000 0.3
     Total 11,190 36.3 1,016,000 66.9 2,693,000 68.1 3,720,000 67.6
                 
Collision with fixed object                
Pole/post   1,557 5.1 55,000 3.6 141,000 3.6 198,000 3.6
Culvert/curb/ditch   2,488 8.1 56,000 3.7 116,000 2.9 175,000 3.2
Shrubbery/tree   2,697 8.8 45,000 3.0 61,000 1.5 109,000 2.0
Guard rail   900 2.9 27,000 1.8 72,000 1.8 100,000 1.8
Embankment   1,018 3.3 21,000 1.4 30,000 0.8 52,000 0.9
Bridge   224 0.7 5,000 0.4 8,000 0.2 14,000 0.2
Other/unknown   1,671 5.4 60,000 3.9 166,000 4.2 227,000 4.1
     Total 10,555 34.3 270,000 17.8 594,000 15.0 875,000 15.9
                 
Collision with  object, not fixed                  
Parked motor vehicle   335 1.1 28,000 1.8 311,000 7.9 339,000 6.2
Animal   173 0.6 12,000 0.8 260,000 6.6 272,000 4.9
Pedestrian   3,803 12.3 53,000 3.5 1,000 (1) 57,000 1.0
Pedalcyclist   626 2.0 49,000 3.3 3,000 0.1 53,000 1.0
Train   122 0.4 (2) (1) (2) (1) 1,000 (1)
Other/unknown   298 1.0 7,000 0.4 30,000 0.8 37,000 0.7
     Total 5,357 17.4 148,000 9.8 605,000 15.3 759,000 13.8
                 
Noncollision                
Rollover   3,282 10.7 77,000 5.1 38,000 1.0 119,000 2.2
Other/unknown   384 1.2 6,000 0.4 26,000 0.7 33,000 0.6
     Total 3,666 11.9 83,000 5.5 64,000 1.6 151,000 2.8
Total   30,797 (3) 100.0% 1,517,000 100.0% 3,957,000 100.0% 5,505,000 100.0%

(1) Less than 0.05 percent.
(2) Less than 500 crashes.
(3) Includes 29 crashes with unknown first harmful event.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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DISTRACTED DRIVING

Activities that take drivers’ attention off the road, such as talking or texting on cellphones, eating, conversing with passengers and other distractions, are a major safety threat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revised the way it measures distracted driving, introducing a new measure called “distraction-affected crashes.” This refinement focuses more narrowly on crashes in which a driver was most likely to have been distracted. The old measure recorded a broad range of potential distractions such as careless driving or a cell phone present in the vehicle. The new measure focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement such as distraction by dialing a cellphone or texting and distraction by an outside person or event. NHTSA said there were 3,092 fatalities in “distraction-affected” crashes in 2010. In 2009 NHTSA said there were 5,474 “distraction-related” fatalities. The two measures are distinct and cannot be compared. Another annual survey by NHTSA found that the percentage of all drivers using hand-held cellphones was 5 percent in both 2009 and 2010.

However, texting bans may not reduce crash rates, according to a Highway Loss Data Institute study of collision claims patterns in California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington before and after texting bans went into effect. Collisions went up slightly in all the states, except Washington, where the change was statistically insignificant.

Teen girls are twice as likely as teen boys to use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, according to a March, 2012  study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

FATAL CRASHES INVOLVING DRIVER DISTRACTIONS, 2005-2009
  Total     Involving driver distractions  
  Fatal crashes  Drivers Fatalities Fatal crashes Drivers Fatalities
2005 39,252 59,220 43,510 4,026 4,217 4,472
2006 38,648 57,846 42,708 5,245 5,455 5,836
2007 37,435 56,019 41,259 5,329 5,552 5,917
2008 34,172 50,416 37,423 5,307 5,477 5,838
2009 30,797 45,230 33,808 4,898 5,084 5,474

Source:  U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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  • The percentage of people killed in fatal crashes that involved driver distractions rose from 10 percent in 2005 

Source: http://www.iii.org
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