Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Apr 2, 2022

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Just What's Essential

  • More than 38,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2020, with even more estimated for 2021
  • Worldwide, more than a million people die every year due to car accidents
  • The leading causes of death in traffic accidents are distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence

One of life’s greatest tragedies is an unexpected death. Traffic fatalities feel like they come out of nowhere, especially since people spend so much time on the road. When a routine trip turns tragic, it can take a long time for family and friends to recover.

Unfortunately, America seems to be in a traffic fatality epidemic, with rates consistently rising all over the country. However, organizations from non-profits to car insurance companies are trying to tackle this heartbreaking problem. There are also things you can do to help prevent further deaths.

When you look at how many people die in car accidents every year, you’ll probably want to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Read on to learn more about America’s problem with car accident deaths and what you can do to protect yourself.

How many car deaths are in the U.S. each year?

To get an idea of how many people lose their lives in traffic incidents in the U.S., you need to look at accidents by state. Areas with denser populations are more likely to have deadly accidents involving people hitting each other, while rural areas might suffer from weather or animal contact.

Several factors can lead to fatal accidents, some of which are included below.

  • Population

  • Traffic laws

  • Emergency care capabilities

  • Types of vehicles driven

  • Travel speed

  • Rates of people licensed

  • Weather

  • Topography

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluates the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) data to give insights into fatal accidents. Below, you can learn more about how many fatal accidents occur in your state and the most common reasons why they happen.

StatePopulationDeathsMost common killed by road user typeRural or urban
Alabama4.9 million930CarRural
Alaska730,00067Pickup or SUVRural
Arizona7.2 million981CarUrban
Arkansas3 million505Pickup or SUVRural
California39.5 million3,606CarUrban
Colorado5.7 million596Pickup or SUVUrban
Connecticut3.5 million249CarUrban
Delaware970,000132CarRural
Florida21.4 million3,183CarUrban
Georgia10.6 million1,491CarUrban
Hawaii1.4 million108PedestrianUrban
Idaho1.7 million224Pickup or SUVRural
Illinois12.6 million1,009CarUrban
Indiana6.7 million809CarRural
Iowa3.1 million336Pickup or SUVRural
Kansas2.9 million411Pickup or SUVRural
Kentucky4.4 million732CarRural
Louisiana4.6 million727CarRural
Maine1.3 million157CarRural
Maryland6 million521CarUrban
Massachusetts6.8 million334CarUrban
Michigan9.9 million985CarUrban
Minnesota5.6 million364CarRural
Mississippi2.9 million643CarRural
Missouri6.1 million880CarRural
Montana1 million184Pickup or SUVRural
Nebraska1.9 million248CarRural
Nevada3 million304CarUrban
New Hampshire1.3 million101CarRural
New Jersey8.8 million559CarUrban
New Mexico2 million424Pickup or SUVRural
New York19.4 million931PedestrianUrban
North Carolina10.4 million1,373CarRural
North Dakota760,000100Pickup or SUVRural
Ohio11.6 million1,153CarUrban
Oklahoma3.9 million640Pickup or SUVRural
Oregon4.2 million489CarRural
Pennsylvania12.8 million1,059CarUrban
Rhode Island1 million57CarUrban
South Carolina5.1 million1,001CarRural
South Dakota880,000102Car/Pickup or SUVRural
Tennessee6.8 million1,135CarUrban
Texas28.9 million3,615Pickup or SUVUrban
Utah3.2 million248CarUrban
Vermont620,000248CarRural
Virginia8.5 million831CarRural
Washington7.6 million519CarUrban
West Virginia1.7 million260Pickup or SUVRural
Wisconsin5.8 million566CarRural
Wyoming570,000147Pickup or SUVRural

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From this limited set of data, you can see that each state has its own most common type of car accident.

When you add the information from all the states, more than 38,000 people die in the U.S. every year. That means that there are over 90 car accident deaths per day in the U.S.

Unintentional injuries are the third biggest killer in America and the number one killer of people under 44.

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How many people die in car accidents worldwide?

Car accidents are a problem for more than Americans. Fatal accidents claim more than a million lives every year around the world. How many car accidents per day in the world? Shockingly, worldwide deaths average over 3,700 every day.

Similar to how states have different statistics, some countries have more dangerous roads than others. Curious to see how many car accidents occur per year in the U.K.? Or perhaps you’re traveling south of the border and want to know how much travel insurance for Mexico you’ll need to protect yourself.

Whatever the reason, you can compare a random sample of countries below.

CountryDeathsLast year reported
U.K.2,0262019
Mexico15,0622013
China261,3672016
Australia1,1312018
India207,5512016
Brazil46,9352013
Canada2,1182016
Egypt10,4662013
Japan5,2242016
Vietnam22,4192013
France3,5852019
Greece6992019
Ghana6,7892013
Philippines10,3792013
Jordan7502016
Ireland1942019

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As you can see, car accidents claim the lives of far too many drivers. If it feels like you’ve noticed that there are more car accidents in the news, you’re probably right. Car accidents seem to be on the rise.

Are car accident fatalities rising?

Midway through 2021, DOT released the number of people who died in accidents and how many more were projected to die. The number was frightening and showed an 18% increase from the previous year.

Two of the leading culprits were increased speeding and decreased seatbelt use since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many people assumed the increase was due to more cars on the road. After all, American streets were empty for a significant chunk of 2020. It would make sense that 2021 would have more traffic deaths than 2020.

However, the numbers told a different story. If you compare car accident deaths in 2019 in the U.S., there was still an increase. In fact, 2020 had the most car accident deaths since 2007. You can compare the number of fatal car accidents by year below to get a better picture.

YearDeaths
197544,525
198051,091
198543,825
199044,599
199541,817
200041,945
200543,510
201032,999
201535,485
202038,680

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Experts believe that Americans are releasing more of their frustrations on the road. America has a lot to be stressed about. Like everyone else, Americans lived under the threat of COVID-19 for more than two years. Many Americans lost their jobs and inflation is soaring, just to name a few of the current issues.

The anxiety Americans grapple with expresses itself in more than car accident deaths. Along with rising traffic fatalities, homicides, drug overdoses, alcohol sales, and domestic violence also increased by staggering numbers.

What can you do to prevent car accident fatalities?

While you can’t control everything, there are steps you can take to help keep you, your passengers, and other drivers as safe as possible while you’re on the road. Consider the following guidelines to reduce the likelihood of being injured or killed in an accident.

  • Keep a safe distance. While it’s tempting to tailgate someone, especially when they’re driving slowly, you should always give yourself enough space to stop in case the driver of the car in front of you slams on the brakes.
  • Never drink and drive. Drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of death in traffic accidents. Aside from the severe legal trouble you’ll find yourself in, you risk killing someone or yourself when you drive under the influence.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Using your seatbelt is one of the safest choices you can make in a car. Seatbelts saved almost 15,000 lives in 2017, while 47% of deaths occurred when not wearing one.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Distracted driving is the number one cause of traffic fatalities, especially among people aged 15 to 20. While there are many ways to get distracted while driving, the most important is to avoid using your phone.
  • Don’t speed. Even if you’re running late, speeding is never worth the risk. Speeding reduces your time to react and amplifies damage in car accidents.
  • Buy a car with safety features. If you’re in the market for a new car, make sure to get one with good safety features. Today, some of the most popular include emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warnings.
  • Find insurance that rewards good drivers. Several insurance companies are concerned about how many people die in car accidents every day. They also want to lower the number of claims they have. Most major insurance companies will give you a claims-free discount for being a safe driver.

To reduce car accident deaths per year, worldwide efforts are being made to make the roads safer and drivers more aware of the risks. You can join these efforts by maintaining your focus behind the wheel and following traffic laws.

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Find Insurance That Rewards Safe Drivers

Even though the number of traffic fatalities is on the rise, there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself safe. Make sure you follow traffic laws, stay focused, and always wear your seatbelt, and you’ll be on your way to a safe trip every time.

If you’re interested in seeing what insurance companies can do to keep you safe (and reward you for being a safe driver), you should compare companies. Not only can you learn more about safe driving programs, you can also find the best prices for the coverage you need.