Traffic Safety Facts 1995
U.S. Department of Transportation
A Public Information Fact Sheet on Motor Vehicle and Traffic Safety Published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Center for Statistics and Analysis
Motor vehicle travel is the primary means of transportation in the United States, providing an unprecedented degree of mobility. Yet for all its advantages, deaths and injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons of every age from 5 to 27 years old (based on 1992 data). Traffic fatalities account for more than 90 percent of transportation-related fatalities. The mission of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to reduce deaths, injuries, and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes.
Fortunately, much progress is being made in reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our nation's highways. In 1995, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel remained at 1.7, the same since 1993. The increase in safety belt use nationwide to 68 percent and a reduction in the rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes (to 41.3 percent in 1995 from 55.1 percent in 1985) were significant contributions to achieving this consistently low fatality rate. However, much remains to be done. The economic cost alone of motor vehicle crashes in 1994 was more than $150.5 billion.
In 1995, 41,798 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 3,386,000 people were injured, and 4,409,000 crashes involved property damage only.
This overview fact sheet contains statistics on motor vehicle fatalities based on data from the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS). FARS is a census of fatal crashes within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (although Puerto Rico is not included in U.S. totals). Accident and injury statistics are based on data from the General Estimates System (GES). GES is a random sample of police-reported crashes, from which estimates of national totals for injury and property-damage-only crashes are derived.
Other fact sheets available from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis are Alcohol, Speeding, Children, Young Drivers, Older Population, Pedestrians, Pedalcyclists, Motorcycles, Large Trucks, School Buses, Occupant Protection, State Traffic Data, and State Alcohol Estimates. Detailed data on motor vehicle traffic crashes are published annually in Traffic Safety Facts: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatal Accident Reporting System and the General Estimates System.
In 1995, 41,798 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes--an increase of 2.7 percent from 1994.
The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 1995 was 1.7. The injury rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 1995 was 141. The fatality rate per 100,000 population was 15.91 in 1995, an increase of 1.7 percent over the 1994 rate of 15.64.
An average of 115 persons died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 1995--one every 13 minutes. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for every age from 5 through 27 years old.
Vehicle occupants accounted for almost 84 percent of traffic fatalities in 1995. The remaining 16 percent were pedestrians, pedalcyclists, and other nonoccupants.
For data on motor vehicle occupants and nonoccupants killed and injured during the past several years, see Table 1.
For data on persons killed and injured, and fatality and injury rates for the past several years, see Table 2.
In 1995, 49 states and the District of Columbia had safety belt use laws in effect. Use rates vary widely from state to state, reflecting factors such as differences in public attitudes, enforcement practices, legal provisions, and public information and education programs.
From 1982 through 1995, it is estimated that safety belts saved 75,087 lives, including 9,797 lives saved in 1995.
Air bags, combined with lap/shoulder belts, offer the most effective safety protection available today for passenger vehicle occupants. It is estimated that 475 lives were saved by air bags in 1995, and that a total of 1,198 lives were saved from 1987 through 1995. In 1995, it is estimated that 279 children under age 5 were saved as a result of child restraint use. An estimated 2,934 lives were saved by child restraints from 1982 through 1995.
Children in rear-facing child seats should not be placed in the front seat of cars equipped with passenger-side air bags. The impact of a deploying air bag striking a rear-facing child seat could result in injury to the child.
In fatal crashes, 74 percent of passenger car occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed. Safety belts are effective in preventing total ejections: only 1 percent of the occupants reported to have been using restraints were totally ejected, compared with 21 percent of the unrestrained occupants.
In 1995, 46 percent of passenger car occupants and 53 percent of light truck occupants incolved in fatal crashes were unrestrainted.
In 1995 there were 17,274 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes. This is a 4 percent increase compared to 1994, and it represents an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 30 minutes.
The 17,274 alcohol-related fatalities in 1995 (41 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 24 percent reduction from the 22,715 alcohol-related fatalities reported in 1985 (52 percent of the total).
NHTSA estimates that alcohol was involved in 41 percent of fatal crashes and in 7 percent of all crashes in 1995.
In 1995, 32 percent of all traffic fatalities occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or nonoccupant had a blood alcohol con centration (BAC) of 0.10 grams per deciliter (g/dl) or greater.
All states and the District of Columbia now have 21-year-old minimum drinking age laws. NHTSA estimates that these laws have reduced traffic fatalities involving drivers 18 to 20 years old by 13 percent and have saved an estimated 15,667 lives since 1975.
Approximately 1.4 million drivers were arrested in 1994 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This is an arrest rate of 1 for every 127 licensed drivers in the United States (1995 data not yet available).
About 2 in every 5 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
From 1985 to 1995, intoxication rates (BAC of 0.10 g/dl or greater) decreased for drivers of all age groups involved in fatal crashes.
Intoxication rates for drivers in fatal crashes in 1995 were 29.1 percent for motorcycles, 22.4 percent for light trucks, 19.2 percent for passenger cars, and 1.3 percent for large trucks.
The 2,221 motorcyclist fatalities in 1995 accounted for 5 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year. An additional 55,000 motorcycle occupants were injured.
Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were about 16 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and about 4 times as likely to be injured.
For 76 percent of the motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 1995, police reported one or more errors or other factors related to the operator's behavior. The factor most often noted for motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes was "driving too fast for conditions."
In 1995, 43 percent of fatally injured motorcycle operators and 56 percent of fatally injured passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
More than one out of five motorcycle operators (21 percent) involved in fatal crashes in 1995 were operating the vehicle with an invalid license at the time of the collision.
Motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 1995 had higher intoxication rates (BAC of 0.10 g/dl or greater) than any other type of motor vehicle driver. The intoxication rate for motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes was 29.1 percent.
NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 506 motorcyclists in 1995. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 285 lives could have been saved.
In 1995, 10.6 percent (4,439) of all the motor vehicle traffic fatalities reported involved heavy trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds), and 1.2 percent involved medium trucks (gross vehicle weight rating 10,000 to 26,000 pounds).
Of the fatalities that resulted from crashes involving large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds), 78 percent were occupants of another vehicle, 9 percent were nonoccupants, and 13 percent were occupants of a large truck.
Large trucks account for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage-only crashes in 1995.
More than three-quarters (78 percent) of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 1995 collided with another motor vehicle in transport.
Only 1.3 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 1995 were intoxicated, compared with 19.2 percent for passenger cars, 22.4 percent for light trucks, and 29.1 percent for motorcycles.
In 1995, 31,897 occupants of passenger vehicles were killed in traffic crashes and an additional 3,125,000 were injured, accounting for 90 percent of all occupant fatalities (passenger cars 63 percent, light trucks and vans 27 percent) and 97 percent of all occupants injured (passenger cars 75 percent, light trucks and vans 22 percent).
Occupant fatalities in single-vehicle crashes accounted for 40 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in 1995. Occupant fatalities in multiple-vehicle crashes accounted for 44 percent of all fatalities, and the remaining 16 percent were nonoccupant fatalities (pedestrians, pedalcyclists, etc.).
Among fatal crashes for which the point of impact of the vehicle is known, 62 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in 1995 occurred in frontal impacts.
Ejection from the vehicle accounted for 28 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities. The ejection rate for occupants of light trucks in fatal crashes was almost twice the rate for passenger car occupants.
Utility vehicles had the highest rollover involvement rate of any vehicle type in fatal crashes--36 percent, as compared with 25 percent for pickups, 19 percent for vans, and 15 percent for passenger cars.
Utility vehicles also had the highest rollover rate in injury crashes-- 9 percent, compared with 6 percent for pickups, 4 percent for vans, and 3 percent for passenger cars.
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes in 1995 were unrestrained.
The intoxication rate for drivers of light trucks (22 percent) is higher than that for passenger car drivers (19 percent).
There are more than 23.6 million people age 70 years and older in the United States. In 1995, this age group made up 9 percent of the total U.S. resident population, compared with 8 percent in 1985. From 1985 to 1995, this older segment of the population grew 2.3 times as fast as the total population.
In 1995, 156,000 older individuals were injured in traffic crashes, accounting for 5 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes during the year. These older individuals made up 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, 13 percent of all vehicle occupant fatalities, and 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
Older drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1995 had the lowest intoxication rate (4 percent) of all adult drivers.
In two-vehicle fatal crashes involving an older driver and a younger driver, the vehicle driven by the older person was 3.1 times as likely to be the one that was struck (55 percent and 18 percent, respectively). In 46 percent of these crashes, both vehicles were proceeding straight at the time of the collision. In 27 percent, the older driver was turning left--8 times as often as the younger driver.
When driver fatality rates are calculated on the basis of estimated annual travel, the highest rates are found among the youngest and oldest drivers. Compared with the fatality rate for drivers 25 to 65 years old, the rate for teenage drivers is about 4 times as high, and the rate for drivers in the oldest group is 17 times as high.
Young female drivers, under age 50, have a lower fatality rate than their male counterparts, on a per mile driven basis, while the rate is essentially the same for both male and female drivers over 50 years of age.
In 1995, 16- to 24-year-olds represented 24 percent of all traffic fatalities, compared with 8 percent for ages 1 to 15, 44 percent for ages 25 to 54, and 24 percent for ages 55 and over.
On a per population basis, drivers under the age of 25 had the highest rate of involvement in fatal crashes of any age group.
The intoxication rate for 16- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1995 was 12.7 percent. The highest intoxication rates were for drivers 21 to 24 and 25 to 34 years old (27.8 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively).
Nearly one-third of all children between the ages of 5 and 9 years who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes were pedestrians. Almost one-fourth of the traffic fatalities under age 16 were pedestrians.
Motor vehicle occupants 10 to 24 years old involved in fatal crashes had the lowest restraint use rate (42 percent), and those over age 65 had the highest rate (63 percent).
In 1995, the fatal crash involvement rate per 100,000 population was 3 times as high for male drivers as for females. Female drivers continue to exhibit safer driving statistics than male drivers.
Males accounted for 67 percent of all traffic fatalities, 69 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, and 85 percent of all pedalcyclist fatalities in 1995.
The intoxication rate for male drivers involved in fatal crashes was 21.8 percent, compared with 11.2 percent for female drivers.
Among female drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1995, 34 percent were unrestrained at the time of the collision, compared with 46 percent of male drivers in fatal crashes.
In 1995, 84,000 pedestrians were injured and 5,585 were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, representing 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes and 13 percent of all traffic fatalities.
On average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every 94 minutes, and one is injured every 6 minutes.
Alcohol involvement--either for the driver or the pedestrian--was reported in 47 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities. Of the pedestrians involved, 31 percent were intoxicated. The intoxication rate for the drivers involved was 14 percent, less than half that for the pedestrians. In 6 percent of the crashes, both the driver and the pedestrian were intoxicated.
In 1995, 61,000 pedalcyclists were injured and 830 were killed in traffic crashes. Pedalcyclists made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes and 2 percent of all traffic fatalities during the year.
Most of the pedalcyclists injured or killed in 1995 were males (80 percent and 85 percent, respectively), and most were between the ages of 5 and 44 years (91 percent and 77 percent).
Almost one-third (32 percent) of the pedalcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 1995 were between 5 and 15 years old.
For 72 percent of the pedalcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 1995, police reported one or more errors or other factors related to the cyclist's behavior. The factor most often noted was "failure to yield right-of-way" (24 percent), followed by "walking with or against traffic, playing, working, sitting, lying, standing, etc., in roadway" (17 percent), and "improper crossing of the roadway or intersection" (14 percent). Fewer than half of the drivers involved were cited by police for driving errors or other factors related to driver behavior. The factors most often noted for drivers were "driving too fast for conditions or exceeding the speed limit" (12 percent), "inattentive (talking, eating, etc.)" (8 percent), and "failure to keep in proper lane or running off road" (8 percent).