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What Are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash?

Donald Singleton
February 20, 2023

Driving is something that is so common in today’s modern world that most of us will not think much of it. There is training involved, and one must show aptitude for the rules of the road in order to get a license that grants them the privilege to drive. That said, most adults will go to work or out for regular errands without a second thought. Even in countries where public transport is common, some unfortunate incidents can occur, leading some drivers to wonder about their odds of being involved in any kind of fatal accident.

People drive vehicles all over the world, but we will confine our statistics and relevant data to the United States alone for the purposes of this article. However, some of the tips we provide throughout this piece could be of use to any driver across the globe. When we get into the statistics of incidents involving cars in this country, the numbers might seem high. That’s because millions of people drive for personal and professional reasons every day. With so many people and cars on the road, there are several thousand collisions as well. However, data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System in 2019 suggests that the average person’s odds of dying in a car crash are lower than one percent. The system took this data from total automobile fatalities for that year and weighed it against the country’s population at the time.

In essence, the likelihood might seem high simply because you might hear about accidents quite regularly through the news. They are relatively common because driving is common, and the 24-hour news cycle is sure to mention at least a few of these cases. As you can see, however, actual fatalities spread across the population tend to be quite rare. Your odds as an individual are low, but there are still things you should be aware of in order to increase your own safety levels.

What Can You Do to Avoid Traffic Accidents?

Much of the responsibility for avoiding an accident falls to you as a driver. Of course, we cannot always predict what another car on the road is going to do. However, being alert and ready to react can be the thing that saves you from getting into a collision of any kind. Knowing where you are on the road, checking your speed, and being aware of cars in your own lane and others are some of the things you should check regularly while you are driving. There are a few other concrete things you can do as well, and some of these tips may reduce your risk of an accident.

1. If you’re driving down a highway, it is a good idea to stay out of what they call the fast lane. This is the lane in which most accidents on the highway occur. If you give yourself enough time to drive to your destination at a reasonable pace, you shouldn’t need to use this lane regularly.

2. You may hear some people talk about defensive driving. Defensive tactics in this context can keep you alert for other drivers on the road who may be problematic. Look out for cars swerving inside their own lanes or trying to shift to others rapidly. Further, don’t forget to be aware of the positions of bikers or pedestrians. Any of these groups may decide to do something erratic.

3. Adjust both your rear and side mirrors to avoid as many blind spots on the road as possible. Being able to use a panoramic view of your surroundings to get information can help you avoid colliding with other vehicles.

4. Take extra care at nighttime. While you have headlights to help you, night driving can still reduce your visibility. This is particularly true if you are in an area with a lot of artificial lights shining in your eyes constantly.

5. Although you can’t judge a driver by their car, a vehicle that has obvious evidence of impacts might be one to which you should pay close attention. More so than a dirty car, a dented and beat up vehicle might be evidence that this driver is not the most attentive.

What are the odds of dying in a car crash

We’ve touched on some of the statistical data available already, but it may be worth a slightly deeper dive here. Aside from the nationwide statistics, it is important to remember that your probability of being involved in an accident like this can vary. Notably, the number of incidents is going to vary from one state or city to another. This means that there are places in the US that have far fewer recorded accidents than others.

Many cities with large population centers that can lead to congested traffic flow may report higher numbers of collisions or fatalities. If you want to get a good handle on the odds of dying in a car crash for you, you can check the most recent information with the city or county in which you drive most frequently. Your state’s Department of Transportation should be a good place to start when it comes to gathering such information. However, even if you find that your area has a much lower incidence of accidents than the national average, you should still use caution. You should still drive defensively, remain alert, and keep safe.

Car Accident Severity Factors

There are some major factors that can contribute to the severity level of your accident. We will dive further into some of the main ones in our subsections below. As you will see, some of these are aspects that you can take on yourself in order to increase your own safety rating. Others may depend on the other drivers you encounter on the road. This last part is why it is so important to practice active driving. Active or defensive driving means that you do your best to eliminate any distractions that might cause you to be less aware of your surroundings and what your own car is doing.

Lack of a Seat Belt

Putting on your seat belt before you get moving is part of the law in practically every state or city in the US. In most cases, you will be dealing with either a level of primary or secondary enforcement. With primary enforcement, an officer can stop and cite you directly for failure to wear your belt. In the case of secondary enforcement, the official would only do this if the lack of a seat belt has another traffic offense along with it. Only the state of New Hampshire has neither type of enforcement for adults.

However, even if you are in an area that would not cause any issue with your lack of a seat belt, it is still very important to wear one for your own safety. The Center for Disease Control estimates that just putting on your belt can reduce the risk of a harmful injury to your person by as much as 50 percent. This seems like a pretty easy thing to do in order to improve your odds of staying safe on the road.

Driver’s Age

Many drivers in young or elderly age groups practice excellent habits and are quite safe on the road. However, some age demographics do tend to have much larger representation in accident statistics than others. For example, the younger end of the spectrum might include drivers starting from age 16. If we go up to age 19, this chunk of the driving population represents almost nine percent of all accidents. However, they account for only a bit over three percent of licensed drivers. Older drivers tend to represent a higher number of license holders with a lower number of incidents.

Driving Habits

No matter your age, good driving habits are things that can keep you and others safe on the road. These might include things we’ve spoken about above, such as using your seat belt and other safety measures. You can also keep an eye on your speed, use your mirrors regularly, and be ready to slow or stop based on the changes other drivers make. As long as you can react to the situation, you’re in a much better position to avoid a problem.

Intoxicated Driving

As the world became more aware of the effects of drunk driving over the years, various places enacted laws in order to punish this practice. While it can still happen today, more people of driving age are aware of the risks involved. That said, the root cause of driving while a person has alcohol in their system is still far too common an occurrence. Alcohol is a substance that can impair brain function temporarily. This includes a slower ability to reason, react, or use muscle memory. All of these things combined can increase your chances of driving in an unsafe manner.

Drunk Driving and the Chance of a Lethal Auto Accident

In the United States alone, an average of one person every hour or so can die in an auto accident involving intoxication. In nearly all cases, the deaths would have been preventable if both drivers had full control of all their faculties. 2020 even saw a 14 percent increase in these cases when compared to the previous year. Even a small amount of alcohol below your area’s limit can still lower some functions for a time.

How Many Traffic Accidents Happen Each Year?

Statistics can vary from one year to the next. However, if we take the total of the data we have available from the past few years in the US, around 12 million traffic incidents occur annually. This number would include minor collisions or single-car accidents in addition to fatalities.

Has Car Crash Mortality Been Decreasing?

Generally, fatal car accidents have been on the decline in the US. Drivers try to practice safer habits as the knowledge about automobiles and crashes increases. Additionally, many cars have more safety features and better construction to handle impacts than what you would see in older models. Experts expect that mortality rates should continue to decline as engineers implement newer, safer car technologies into production vehicles.

What Kinds of Cars Cause the Most Crashes?

The statistics on the make or model of vehicle that might have connections to the most accidents can vary. Different sources may compile data in various ways, so there is no way to say definitively that one type or model of automobile is certainly involved in more collisions than any other. These statistics can also grow or shrink depending on how one collates the data. For example, if you take the entire F-series of trucks from a particular manufacturer, these vehicles would make up the bulk of those involved in incidents in the US.

Legal Options Following a Fatal Car Accident

If someone you know is involved in an accident that proves fatal, as a family member, you may be able to file a claim. If so, someone may assign your case to a claims adjustment agent for further review and to pursue other steps.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Car Accident

Once you file a claim following a fatal accident, your most likely course of action will be to make that claim into a lawsuit. This lawsuit would allege that a wrongful death occurred as the result of action or inaction on the part of the other party. Qualified experts such as we here at Singleton Law Firm can help you with this case during such a difficult time.

Donald Singleton

Donald Singleton


A Georgia native, Don founded Singleton Law Firm in 1999 as a continuation of his lifetime commitment to serving his state and community. He has concentrated his trial practice to representing victims of serious injury and wrongful death arising out of trucking, car, bus and motorcycle accidents, premises liability and a wide variety of other causes.

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