Traffic Safety Facts 1994

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The National Center for Statistics and Analysis annually produces the NHTSA Traffic Safety Fact Sheets, which provide timely data about fatal motor vehicle crashes in specific subject areas. Below are summaries of information contained in the fact sheets, or visit this page to download them in PDF format.

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Table of Contents

Overview Occupant Protection Alcohol Motorcycles
Large Trucks Cars, Light Trucks, and Vans Driver Age
Youth Male/Female Crash Involvement Pedestrians Pedalcyclists
NHTSA Estimates of Lives Saved and Injuries Prevented

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bulletIn 1994, 40,676 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, an increase of 1.3 percent from 1993.
bulletThe fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 1994 was 1.7. The fatality rate per 100,000 population was 15.6 in 1994, 0.3 percent higher than 1993 (15.6).
bulletAn average of 111 persons died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 1994 - one every 13 minutes.
bulletMotor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for every age from 6 through 28 years old (based on 1991 data).
bulletVehicle occupants comprised almost 84 percent of fatalities in 1994; the remaining 16 percent were pedestrians, pedalcyclists and other nonoccupants.


bulletIn 1994, 47 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.
bulletFrom 1982 through 1994, it is estimated that safety belts saved 65,290 lives (9,175 in 1994).
bulletIn 1994, it is estimated that 308 children under age 5 were saved as a result of child restraint use. An estimated 2,655 lives were saved by child restraints from 1982 through 1994.
bulletIn 1994, 47 percent of occupants of passenger cars and 54 percent of occupants of light trucks involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained.
bulletIn fatal crashes, 73 percent of passenger car occupants who were totally ejected were killed. Safety belts are very effective in preventing total ejections: only 1 percent of the occupants reported to be using restraints were totally ejected, compared with 20 percent of the unrestrained occupants.


bulletIn 1994 there were 16,589 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes which is the lowest number of alcohol-related fatalities in many years. However, it still represents an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 32 minutes.
bulletMotor vehicle fatalities in alcohol related crashes dropped by 5 percent from 1993 to 1994. The 16,589 alcohol related fatalities in 1994 (40.8 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 30 percent reduction from the 23,758 alcohol-related fatalities reported in 1984 (53.7 percent of the total).
bulletNHTSA estimates that alcohol was involved in 40.9 percent of fatal crashes in 1994.
bulletIn 1994, 32.2 percent of all traffic fatalities occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or pedestrian had a BAC of .10 or greater.
bulletMore than 1.5 million drivers were arrested in 1993 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics; an arrest rate of 1 for every 117 licensed drivers in the United States (1994 data not yet available).
bulletAbout 2 in every 5 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
bulletFrom 1894 to 1994, intoxication rates (BAC = .10+) decreased from drivers of all age groups involved in fatal crashes.
bulletIntoxication rates for drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1994 were 28.9 percent for motorcycles, 22.9 percent for light trucks, 19.4 percent for passenger cars and 1.4 percent for medium and heavy trucks.
bulletNHTSA estimates that minimum drinking age laws have saved 14,816 lives since 1975.


bulletThe 2,304 motorcyclist fatalities accounted for 6 percent of total fatalities in 1994.
bulletThe motorcycle fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is about 20 times that of passenger cars.
bulletMotorcycle operator error was identified as a contributing factor in 76 percent of fatal crashes involving motorcycles in 1994. Excessive speed was the contributing factor most often noted.
bullet43 percent of fatally injured operators and 48 percent of fatally injured passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
bulletApproximately one out of every five motorcycle operators involved in a fatal crash in 1994 was driving with an invalid license at the time of the collision.
bulletMotorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 1994 had a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level (28.9 percent) than any other type of motor vehicle driver.
bulletNHTSA estimates that 518 lives were saved by the use of motorcycle helmets in 1994.


bullet11 percent (4,544) of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities reported in 1994 involved heavy trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds) and 1.5 percent (608) of the fatalities involved medium trucks (gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 to 26,000 pounds).
bullet78 percent of fatalities involving a medium or heavy truck were occupants of another vehicle. 13 percent were occupants of the medium or heavy truck.
bulletMedium and heavy trucks accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 1994.
bulletThree quarters of the medium and heavy trucks in fatal crashes in 1994 collided with another motor vehicle in transport.
bulletOnly 1.4 percent of the drivers of medium and heavy trucks involved in fatal crashes in 1994 were intoxicated. (Compared with 19.4 percent for passenger cars, 22.9 percent for light trucks and 28.9 percent for motorcycles).


bulletThere were 30,780 occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles in 1994. This is approximately 90 percent of total occupant fatalities (passenger cars 64 percent, light trucks 26 percent).
bulletSingle-vehicle crashes accounted for 41 percent of all fatal crashes, multi-vehicle crashes 42 percent and the remaining 17 percent were nonoccupant crashes.
bulletFrontal impacts accounted for 62 percent of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities where the impact of the vehicle is known.
bulletEjection accounted from 27 percent of occupant fatalities in passenger vehicle. Occupant of light trucks experienced almost twice the ejection rate of passenger cars.
bulletUtility vehicles experienced the highest rollover involvement rate of any vehicle type in fatal crashes (37 percent) compared to 25 percent for pickups, 18 percent for vans and 15 percent for passenger cars.
bullet66 percent of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities were unrestrained.
bulletDrivers of light trucks have a higher intoxication rate (22.9 percent) than that of passenger car drivers (19.4 percent).


bulletThere are over 23 million people ages 70 years and older in the United States. In 1994, this age group comprised 8.9 percent of the total U.S. resident population, compared with 6.8 percent in 1975. From 1975 to 1994, this older segment of the population grew 3 times as fast as the total population.
bulletIn 1994, 13 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities were older people.
bulletOlder drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1993 had the lowest proportion of intoxication (5.5 percent) of any age group.
bulletIn two-vehicle crashes involving an older driver and a younger driver, the vehicle driven by the older person was 3 times as likely to be the one that was struck (56 percent vs. 16 percent). In 44 percent of these crashes, both vehicles were proceeding straight at the time of the collision. In 28 percent the older drivers was turning left - 9 times as often as the younger driver.


bullet16-24 year olds represent 24 percent of total fatalities compared to 8 percent from ages 1-15, 43 percent for ages 25-54, and 24 percent for ages 55 and over.
bulletOn a per population basis, drivers under the age of 25 had the highest rate of involvement in fatal crashes among all age groups.
bulletThe intoxication rate for 16-20 year old drivers in fatal crashes in 1994 was 14.1 percent. The highest intoxication rates were for drivers 21 to 24 and 25 to 34 years old (28.1 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively).


bulletThe male fatal crash involvement rate per 100,000 population was 3 times as high as for female drivers in 1994. Female drivers continue to exhibit safer driving statistics than male drivers.
bulletMales accounted for 67 percent of total fatalities, 68 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, and 86 percent of all pedalcyclist fatalities in 1994.
bullet22 percent of male drivers involved in fatal crashes were intoxicated compared to 11 percent of female drivers.
bullet37 percent of female drivers involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained at the time of the crash compared to 47 percent for male drivers involved in fatal crashes.


bulletIn 1994, there were 5,472 pedestrian fatalities which represented 13 percent of total fatalities.
bulletOn average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every 96 minutes.
bulletMore than one-third of children between 5 and 9 years old killed in motor vehicle crashes were pedestrians.
bulletNearly one-third of all fatally injured pedestrians in motor vehicle crashes has blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels .10 or greater in 1994. In 6 percent of the crashes, both the driver and the pedestrian were intoxicated.


bullet802 pedalcyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 1994. Pedalcyclist fatalities represent 2 percent of total fatalities.
bulletMost pedalcyclist fatalities in 1994 were males (86 percent), and most were between the ages of 6 and 39 (66 percent).
bulletOver one-third of the pedalcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 1994 were between 5 and 15 years old.
bulletFor 72 percent of the pedalcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 1994, 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", followed by "walking with or against traffic" and improper crossing of the roadway or intersection." Fewer than half 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" (17 percent), "vision obscured" (14 percent) and "driver inattentiveness (talking, eating, etc.)" (13 percent).

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NHTSA Estimates of Lives Saved and Injuries Prevented

Child Restraints Safety BeltsAir Bags MC Helmets 21 MLDA Lives Savable at 100% Use
Seats Belts Total Lives Saved Injuries Prevented Lives Saved Lives Saved Belts Helmets
1975 412
1976 436
1977 474
1978 509
1979 575
1980 595
1981 633
1982 68 7 75 678 15,600 578 13,928
1983 95 10 105 809 18,600 609 13,722
1984 111 15 126 1,197 19,100 813 709 14,424 1,572
1985 135 18 153 2,435 51,200 788 701 14,943 1,552
1986 132 34 166 4,094 81,200 807 840 16,822 1,558
1987 172 41 213 5,171 114,700 1 667 1,071 17,829 1,364
1988 209 39 248 5,983 149,900 4 605 1,148 18,643 1,237
1989 197 41 238 6,353 154,900 7 530 1,093 18,598 1,064
1990 193 29 222 6,596 193,200 46 602 1,033 18,353 1,115
1991 217 30 247 7,022 196,400 92 531 941 17,653 968
1992 232 36 268 7,403 154,800 141 559 795 17,222 856
1993 247 39 286 8,372 160,900 245 572 816 17,950 875
1994 250 58 308 9,175 211,000 374 518 848 18,704 818
Total2,258397 2,655 65,288 1,521,500 910 6,992 14,816 218,790 12,979

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