Car crashes cause thousands of deaths each year in the United States. In 2022 alone, 42,795 people died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29. When you look at numbers like that, you might wonder what your odds of dying in a car crash are.
Let’s take a look at what the odds are of dying in a car crash, along with safety tips that can reduce your risk.
Knowing the Odds
The Statistical Likelihood of Dying in a Car Crash
The lifetime odds of dying in a crash for a person born in 2021 are 1 in 93. This number is based on the U.S. population and life expectancy for 2021 and doesn’t necessarily reflect an individual’s chances of dying from a certain cause. A person’s lifestyle and activities have a significant impact on their risk level.
Car Crashes vs. Other Common Causes of Death
|Cause of Death
|Odds of Dying
|1 in 6
|1 in 7
|1 in 10
|Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease
|1 in 31
|Accidental Opioid Overdose
|1 in 58
|Guns (all intents)
|1 in 89
|1 in 208
|Accidental Gun Discharge
|1 in 7,944
|1 in 91
|Motor Vehicle Crash
|1 in 93
|1 in 98
|1 in 485
|1 in 747
|1 in 1,006
|Fire or Smoke
|1 in 1,287
|Choking on Food
|1 in 2,659
|1 in 3,546
|1 in 4m655
|Electrocution, radiation, extreme temperatures, and pressure
|1 in 13,176
|1 in 20,098
|1 in 25,960
|Hot surfaces and substances
|1 in 45,908
|1 in 53,843
|Hornet, wasp, and bee stings
|1 in 54,516
Factors That Influence the Odds of Dying
In general, younger drivers face a higher risk of getting in a car accident. That’s because they’re less mature and less experienced on the road. They’re also more likely than older drivers to participate in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding and texting while driving.
Men get in fatal car accidents more often than women because they’re more likely to engage in risky and reckless driving behaviors such as speeding and tailgating.
Drivers who engage in dangerous behaviors such as darting between lanes, brake checking, and running red lights are more likely to get in car accidents. The more likely someone is to get in a car accident, the higher their risk is of dying in one.
The type of vehicle you drive also impacts your odds of dying in a car crash. Some vehicle makes and models will better protect you in the case of an accident thanks to advanced safety features. If you drive an older car with outdated safety features, your odds increase. Consider vehicle safety before buying or renting a car.
These car models were involved in the highest number of fatal accidents from 2016 to 2020.
Seat Belt Usage
1,056 youths between the ages of 16 and 20 died in motor vehicle accidents. 53% of them weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. Seat belts save lives by protecting you from head injuries and other trauma, as well as prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle at the time of impact.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly increases one’s risk of dying in a crash. Alcohol and drugs impair your concentration and decision-making abilities.
Car Accident Trends and Statistics
According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42,795 people died in car accidents in the US in 2022. On a global scale, roughly 1.35 million people die annually due to car crashes. Despite recent advancements in safety technology, human factors still lead to an increase in car accidents.
Let’s take a look at annual car accident death rates in the US from 2018 to 2022.
Safety Measures That Can Reduce the Odds of Dying
Driving Safety Tips to Reduce Fatalities
Practicing safe driving habits can reduce your risk of dying in a car crash. Here are some driving safety tips you should follow every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
- Wear a seatbelt
- Don’t engage in reckless or aggressive driving behaviors (i.e. speeding and tailgating)
- Obey all traffic laws and regulations
- Yield to pedestrians, cyclists, and other motor vehicles when appropriate
- Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Don’t drive underage
- Don’t drive distracted (i.e. texting, talking on the phone, eating)
The Importance of Maintaining Your Vehicle
Maintaining your vehicle is another way to reduce your risk of being involved in a fatal crash. Just like your HVAC system and your landscaping, your vehicle requires routine maintenance to remain safe and functional. As a general rule of thumb, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, which can be found in the owner’s manual that came with your vehicle.
Here are common signs your vehicle needs maintenance or repairs.
- The check engine light, service engine soon light, or tire light comes on
- Braking issues
- Poor acceleration
- Stalling or trouble starting
- Fuel inefficiency
- Shifting problems
Here’s how often you should perform these basic maintenance tasks.
- Inspection: every 12 months
- Oil change: every 3,000 for conventional or mixed oil and every 10,000 miles for full synthetic oil
- Tire rotation: every 6 months
- Replace coolant: every 60,000 miles
- Replace fuel filter: every 30,000 miles
Legal Recourse After a Fatal Car Accident
Legal Options for Families Affected by a Fatal Car Crash
The aftermath of a fatal car crash is emotionally and financially devastating for the loved ones of the deceased. While nothing can change what happened, the family can seek compensation on behalf of their loved one. Families can do this by settling with the at-fault party or by filing a lawsuit against them.
How Wrongful Death Claims and Settlements Work
Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim is a claim filed by a surviving family member or legal representative of a deceased person on their behalf. The purpose of it is to seek financial compensation from the responsible party to cover the cost of medical bills, funeral expenses, and other expenses associated with the deceased person’s injuries and death.
Wrongful death claims only occur in civil proceedings, not criminal cases. Typically, an immediate family member—such as the parent, spouse, or child—of the deceased files the claim. If no family member is willing or able to file a claim, the executor of the deceased person’s estate can do so.
Proving wrongful death
The person filing the lawsuit must prove the driver’s actions caused the injuries that led to their loved one’s death. Four criteria must be met to establish negligence.
- Duty: The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- Breach: The defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff.
- Causation: This breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Damages: The plaintiff suffers some form of identifiable harm—whether physical, psychological, or financial—as a result of their injuries.
A settlement is the money paid by either the defendant or their insurance company to compensate the deceased person’s family for their losses. The amount a wrongful death claim is worth depends on the details of the case and how quickly the parties involved want to settle. Settlements are negotiated by attorneys and insurance companies until an agreement is made between all parties involved. Lawyers always try to settle before taking a case to court.
While a settlement can’t bring back a lost loved one, it can relieve the financial burden placed on the deceased person’s family members and give them a sense of justice for what happened.
Steinger, Greene & Feiner Will Get Justice for Your Loved One
The best way to reduce your odds of dying in a car crash is to understand and mitigate the associated risks. Unfortunately, not all accidents can be prevented.
If a loved one was killed in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner. Our wrongful death lawyers won’t stop until the responsible party has been held accountable and your family has been fairly compensated. Get in touch with our car accident lawyers today to schedule a free case evaluation. You can discuss the details of your case, ask any questions, and address your concerns during this initial meeting. Don’t worry about payments. Thanks to our contingency fee basis, you don’t pay until we win.