Shocking Car Accident Statistics You Need to Know

car accident statistics

Brace yourself, because I’m about to hit you with some car accident statistics that will make your jaw drop. I’m not talking about boring numbers here – I’m talking about the cold, hard facts that could save your life on the road.

Did you know that every 16 minutes, someone dies in a car crash in the US? That’s over 90 deaths per day. And get this: 94% of all car accidents are caused by human error. It’s within our grasp to halt nearly all such devastating situations in their tracks.

But here’s the thing – most people don’t realize just how dangerous driving can be. They think “it won’t happen to me.” Well, I’m here to tell you that it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Prepare yourself; we’re peeling back the curtain to reveal what’s really happening with car accidents in our country.

Table of Contents:

Car Accident Statistics in the United States

Car accidents happen every single day across the U.S., and the numbers are staggering. In 2020 alone, there were an estimated 5,250,837 crashes total. That breaks down to a crash every 6 seconds. It’s mind-blowing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 there were an estimated 38,680 fatalities from motor vehicle traffic crashes, a 7.2% increase from 2019 despite a 13.2% decrease in miles traveled.

Types of car accidents

The most common types of car accidents include rear-end collisions, side-impact collisions, head-on collisions, single-vehicle crashes, and rollover accidents. Rear-end collisions account for about 29% of all crashes. The leading causes of car accidents are distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, reckless driving, bad weather conditions, and vehicle defects. According to the NHTSA, 94% of serious crashes are due to human error.

Demographic breakdown of car accident victims

Young adult drivers ages 16-24 have the highest crash rates, followed by older drivers over age 75. Males are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than females across all age groups. In 2019, 71% of traffic fatalities were male.

Drunk Driving and Car Accidents

Drunk driving is a major problem on our roads. Despite all the warnings, PSAs, and tragic stories shared, people still get behind the wheel after drinking. And the consequences are deadly. In 2019, there were 10,142 deaths from drunk driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. This equates to about 1 alcohol-impaired driving fatality every 52 minutes.

Consequences of drunk driving

Drunk driving can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. It also leads to higher insurance rates. The average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before their first arrest.

Efforts to reduce drunk driving

Strategies to reduce drunk driving include sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlocks, license revocation laws, mass media campaigns, and school-based instructional programs. Since the early 1980s, alcohol-related driving fatalities have decreased by 50%.

Speeding and Car Accidents

We’ve all seen that driver rocketing down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic. Speeding is a major factor in car accidents and fatalities. The faster you go, the less time you have to react. In 2019, speeding killed 9,478 people, accounting for over a quarter (26%) of all traffic fatalities. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects, extends the distance needed to stop, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation.

Common types of speeding-related accidents

Speeding-related crashes are more likely to result in rollovers, especially for SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks. Speeding also increases the risk and severity of rear-end collisions and head-on crashes.

Strategies to reduce speeding

Proven methods to reduce speeding include increased enforcement through speed cameras and traditional policing, traffic calming road designs, reduced speed limits, and public awareness campaigns. Studies show a 1% reduction in average speed results in a 2% reduction in the number of injury crashes.

Distracted Driving and Car Accidents

We’re all guilty of some form of distracted driving, whether it’s changing the radio, eating on the go, or checking that “urgent” text. But taking your attention off the road for even a second can have life-altering consequences. The three main types of distraction are visual (taking eyes off the road), manual (taking hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking mind off driving). Common distractions include cell phone use, eating, drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, and adjusting audio or navigation systems.

Prevalence of distracted driving accidents

In 2019, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives. An estimated 8.7% of drivers are using a cell phone at any given time. Drivers under 25 are most likely to text or email while driving. Distracted driving crashes are underreported due to difficulty identifying distraction as a crash factor.

Laws and campaigns to combat distracted driving

As of 2021, 24 states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. 48 states ban text messaging for all drivers. Public education campaigns like “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” aim to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

Seat Belt Use and Car Accident Fatalities

Buckling up is the simplest way to reduce your risk of dying in a crash. But not everyone does it, and the consequences can be fatal. Seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle.

Seat belt usage rates

In 2019, the national seat belt use rate was 90.7%. Seat belt use is lower in states with secondary enforcement seat belt laws or no seat belt laws. Seat belt use is higher in the West (94.5%) than in other regions.

Encouraging seat belt use

Primary enforcement seat belt laws, where police can ticket a driver solely for not wearing a seat belt, are more effective at increasing seat belt use than secondary laws. “Click It or Ticket” campaigns combining publicity and increased enforcement have boosted seat belt use.

Car Accidents by Vehicle Type

The type of vehicle you drive plays a role in your crash risk and potential for injury. Some vehicles are more prone to certain types of crashes or have design features that make crashes more severe. In 2019, passenger car occupants accounted for 62% of traffic fatalities, followed by light truck occupants (24%), motorcyclists (14%), large truck occupants (2%), and other/unknown occupants (2%). Motorcyclists had the highest fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled at 25.47.

Unique risks associated with each vehicle type

SUVs and pickup trucks are more prone to rollovers due to their higher center of gravity. Motorcycles provide less protection and stability, making riders vulnerable to serious injuries. Large trucks have significant blind spots and long stopping distances, posing risks to other motorists.

Deadliest Times and Locations for Car Accidents

Car accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. But there are certain times and places where crashes are more common and more likely to be fatal. Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to drive, with 53% more fatal crashes than the daily average. The deadliest time of day is between 4 pm and 7:59 pm, accounting for 16% of all fatal crashes. Crash risk increases when transitioning from light to dark, especially on Fridays.

Locations with the most car accidents

Over half of crash deaths occur on rural roads, while 45% occur on urban roads. Rural roads have a fatality rate 2 times higher than urban roads. Intersections are a common site for crashes, accounting for roughly 40% of all reported crashes.

Economic and Societal Impact of Car Accidents

The costs of car accidents go far beyond vehicle damage and medical bills. Crashes have far-reaching economic and societal impacts that affect us all. The economic cost of car accidents in the U.S. is over $242 billion per year, including lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs, insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses.

Impact on insurance rates

Car accidents are a primary factor in determining auto insurance rates. Drivers with an at-fault accident pay an average of 45% more for car insurance than drivers with a clean record. Rates can remain elevated for many years after an accident.

Societal consequences of car accidents

Beyond the economic costs, car accidents inflict immense physical and emotional suffering. They are a leading cause of death and disability, especially among younger populations. Crashes can lead to lifelong injuries, lost income, and strained relationships for victims and their families.

Key Takeaway: 

Car accidents are a major issue in the U.S., with distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving as top causes. Seat belts save lives, yet not everyone buckles up. The type of vehicle you drive also affects your crash risk. Stay aware to stay safe.


Car accident statistics paint a grim picture, but there may be hope. By understanding the risks and taking proactive steps to stay safe, we can all do our part to reduce the number of crashes on our roads.

Remember, every time you get behind the wheel, you’re not just responsible for your own life – you’re responsible for the lives of everyone around you. So put down the phone, slow down, and stay alert. Your loved ones are counting on you to make it home safely.

Let’s work together to make our roads a safer place for everyone. Because at the end of the day, even one car accident is one too many.


About the Author

Best In Law Editorial Team

Our Best in Law Editorial Team strives to clarify complex legal topics, offering readers a reliable source for comprehensive, well-researched, and thought-provoking legal insight and attorney selection. Stay informed and empowered with the wisdom of our experienced legal team.

About Us

At “Best In Law” we are driven by a mission to highlight outstanding contributions across the legal industry. Selections are not paid and are based solely on merit. Our articles are written by our experienced legal team.

Contact Us