Traffic Deaths by State: What You Need to Know

Traffic Deaths

Traffic Deaths

Trafic deaths occur more frequently based on location. By breaking down the data and common factors, drivers will be able to stay safer on the roads and know what to look for during their commute. Here is a look into how common fatal car accidents are and the common contributing factors that cause them depending on where they take place.


A Brief History of the Earliest Accident

On the 13th of September, 1899, a 69-year-old real estate dealer was exiting a trolley car in New York City when he was struck by an electric-powered taxicab. Though he received treatment at a nearby hospital for his head and chest injuries, he was pronounced dead the following day. The death of the man, Henry Hale Bliss, is recognized as the first recorded instance of a person being killed in a vehicle collision in the United States.

Since that day more than 120 years ago, road traffic deaths have unfortunately become a daily occurrence in the US. In 2020, more than 100 people per day were killed in car accidents across the country.


Fatal Traffic Deaths by State

In 2020, there were a total of 38,824 deaths following fatal motor vehicle crashes in the US. This equates to 1.34 deaths per 100 million miles traveled and 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people nationally.

Certain states have a far higher death rate per 100,000 people than others. For example, in Mississippi, there were 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to just 4.9 in Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts also had the lowest death rate per 100 million miles traveled at 0.63. Compare this to the high of 1.97 in South Carolina, which is three times greater.


Fatal Crashes by Road User Type

Traffic Deaths

Across the different US states, we also see broad differences in the types of motor vehicle crash deaths. States have differences in deaths for car occupants, large truck occupants, pedestrians, bicyclists, pedestrians, and large truck occupants.

The state with the highest percentages of deaths involving SUV and pickup occupants, for example, was Wyoming. Here, 48% of deaths in road traffic accidents involved people in these types of vehicles. 44% of fatal crashes in Vermont, meanwhile, involved car occupants, the highest in the country.

Hawaii and Florida, in 2020, tied for the highest percentage of crash deaths involving bicyclists at 5%. The highest percentage of deaths involving pedestrians was recorded in New Jersey at 30%.


Single vs. Multi-Vehicle Crashes

In the US in 2020, the majority (55%) of road traffic accident deaths occurred in single-vehicle crashes. Again, we can see significant differences across the 50 states. For example, 70% of road deaths in both Rhode Island and Montana were related to single-vehicle crashes.

The highest percentage of deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes, at 53%, was recorded in Delaware. The District of Columbia, Kansas, and Nebraska all had an even 50-50 split between single and multi-vehicle crashes.

Some of the most common causes of single-vehicle crashes include drunk driving, speeding, mechanical failures, distracted driving, bad weather conditions, and inexperienced drivers. These causes are also related to multi-vehicle crashes, along with tailgating and not paying attention at junctions.


The Role of Alcohol in Fatal Crashes

Unfortunately, alcohol involvement in fatal road traffic accidents in the US is high. Countrywide in 2020, 58% of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers had a known blood alcohol content (BAC).

In Hawaii, 97% of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers had a known blood alcohol content, compared to a low of 9% in Mississippi.

When we drink, we experience changes in the parts of the brain that control motor skills. This causes our reflexes to slow down, as well as decreases the ability to brake or use the gas pedal appropriately and steer safely. Alcohol consumption also causes the muscles that control the eyes to relax, which results in blurred vision.

The use of drugs also has a major impact on a person’s ability to drive safely and within the rules of the road. Prescribed medications and illegal drug use strongly hinder reflexes and compromise judgment. 


Prevalence of Seat Belt Use in Fatal Crashes

seatbelt preventing car accident injury

It is an established fact that seat belts save lives. In the US, 90% of front-seat passenger vehicle occupants wear a seat belt. This rate is the highest in the District of Columbia (96%) and the lowest in South Dakota (68%).

With regards to fatal road traffic accidents in 2020, only 44% of fatally injured occupants were properly restrained, which highlights how dangerous it is not to wear a seat belt. In Nebraska, less than a quarter (23%) of fatally injured occupants were wearing a seat belt.

The three-point seatbelt was invented in 1958 (prior to this, two-point lap belts were used). In the US, seatbelts have been mandatory in cars since 1966.


Comparison Between Urban and Rural Areas

In the United States, the majority of fatal road traffic accidents occurred in urban areas (56%). Within the different states, there are naturally significant differences. For example, in Massachusetts, 92% of fatal accidents occurred on urban roads. 89% of fatal accidents in Hawaii and New Jersey occurred on urban roads.

States, where the vast majority of fatal accidents were on rural roads, included Montana (89%), Maine (80%), and Wyoming (80%). Because the District of Columbia is coded entirely as an urban area, 100% of its fatal accidents were recorded as being on urban roads.


Know Your Rights Following Fatal Car Crashes

If a loved one was killed during a road traffic accident that was not entirely their fault, you may be entitled to receive compensation. Alpha Accident Lawyers is your top choice for cases related to wrongful traffic deaths and road traffic accidents.

Our experienced, professional, and highly-trained attorneys are here to help you get the best possible result from your case. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free consultation.


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