A fatal accident can occur to anyone on America’s vast network of roads and highways; traffic fatalities are too common in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 37,133 traffic fatalities in 2017. However, though no one is immune to a fatal accident, research has identified that some drivers are at a higher risk than others. In 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiled which driver categories are most likely to be involved in fatal accidents.
Fatalities by Gender
Statistically, more men die in car accidents than women. Throughout the nation, men account for most miles driven each year. Additionally, the IIHS noted that male drivers are more likely to engage in risky driving behavior, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to wear safety restraints, and speeding. Because of this, crashes caused by male drivers are more severe than those caused by female drivers.
Between 1975 and 2017, IISH found that, though more males die in car accidents each year, females are more likely to lose their life when involved with similar severe accidents. Additionally, over the same period, the organization found that male fatalities are twice as common as female fatalities. In 2017, 26,380 males died in an accident while 10,697 females died.
Fatalities by Age
Like gender, age plays a significant role in fatal crash statistics. In 2017, fatal crashes were most likely for motorists 85 and older. The next most at-risk groups are those aged 80-84 and 20-24. This means that older adults and young adults die the most in car accidents.
Fatalities Caused by Alcohol
Alcohol is a significant factor in fatal car accidents throughout the United States. Between 1982 and 2017, between 32 and 56 percent of male drivers have died in crashes related to drunk driving. For females, this percentage over the same period ranges from 29 to 51 percent. Though rates of alcohol-related deaths have improved over the years, driving under the influence is still an overwhelmingly common cause of fatal accidents. In fact, it is the most common factor in fatal crashes.
The NHTSA found that 3,255 teens drivers (aged 15 to 19) were involved in fatal car crashes. In the same year, 2,526 teens lost their lives in accidents. This means that car accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States. Experts attribute most fatal accidents involving teens to inexperience, distraction, and speeding.
Drivers on Country Roads
Accidents happen on rural roads 2.5 times more often than on non-rural roads. A report from Reuters noted that urban areas in the Northeastern United States have 3.5 fatalities for every 100,000 people while rural areas have 10.8 deaths for every 100,000 people.
Drivers Not Wearing Seatbelts
Considering that they are one of the most straightforward safety decisions in a car, too many people elect to avoid wearing their seatbelts while driving. The NHTSA estimates that approximately 14,955 people had their lives saved seatbelts in 2017. In the same year, the administration states that about 2,549 people’s lives could be saved had they been wearing a seatbelt during their accident. In total, 47 percent of those not wearing safety restraints during an accident lost their lives.