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Car accidents are a fact of life. In 2020, a total of 35,766 fatal car accidents occurred on roadways across the United States. Another 1,593,390 crashes resulted in injuries and 3,621,681 caused property damage. That means a total of 5,250,837 collisions happened over the course of a single year.
Car accident statistics show just how common collisions are on U.S. roadways. This guide explains, among other things, top causes of crashes, likely victims and states where crashes are most likely to occur.
Main Causes of Car Accidents
Some of the most important car crash statistics relate to collision causes. Common crash causes include:
- Drunk driving
How Many Accidents Involve an Intoxicated Person?
DUI statistics are frightening. A total of 35% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred due to impaired driving. Intoxicated drivers alone account for a total of 13,695 fatalities.
There are certain times when impaired driving is more common. In fact, just 23% of crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .01 or higher occurred during the daytime while 67% of DUI-related collisions occurred at night. 
There are also certain locations where impaired driving accidents are more likely. Montana is the state with the most DUI-related fatalities in the U.S. A surprising 51% of fatal accidents in the state are attributed to intoxicated driving. 
What Percentage of Accidents Involve Speeding?
Speeding increases both the risk of collisions occurring as well as the risk of severe and fatal injuries. A total of 29% of all deadly car accidents occur as a result of speeding drivers. Motorists who go too fast accounted for 11,258 fatalities.
Like drunk driving, speeding is more of a problem in some states than others. South Carolina is the highest-risk state for speed-related accidents. A total of 46% of deadly accidents in this state occurred due to excess speed. 
How Many People Are not Wearing Seatbelts During a Car Accident?
Seatbelts save lives. When motorists and passengers do not wear them, the chances of death increase. A total of 46% of drivers involved in deadly collisions are not buckled up, and a similar number of passengers--47%--were also unbelted in fatal crashes. 
When Do Most Car Accidents Happen?
Car accident statistics show that the time of day affects the likelihood of a collision. Nighttime is far deadlier on the roads. 35% of all fatal accidents occur between 6:00 pm and midnight.
Roads are also more deadly on certain days. In total, close to half of all deadly car crashes occur on weekend days including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Finally, holidays can increase the likelihood of collisions as well. Car crash statistics show Independence Day is the deadliest day of the year. The average annual number of collisions on July 4 is 134. September 3rd is a close second in terms of deadliness, with an average of 128 fatal crashes occurring each year on that date.
Fatal Accident Statistics
All car crashes can have serious and lasting consequences, but fatal crashes are especially catastrophic. Car crash statistics can look beyond causes of car accidents to demonstrate when and how fatal crashes happen.
How Many Fatal Car Accidents Happen in the U.S.?
In 2020, a total of 35,766 fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred on U.S. roadways. These crashes resulted in a total of 38,824 deaths.
With so many fatalities occurring, Forbes Advisor calculated one fatal car accident occurs every 15 minutes in the United States. Sadly, the number of fatal accidents is on the rise. There was a 7% increase in the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents between 2019 and 2020.
What Percentage of Accidents Include a Fatality?
Although thousands of fatal motor vehicle accidents happen each year, the vast majority of crashes do not result in a death. In fact, just 35,768 deaths occurred in the 5,250,837 total reported accidents that happened in 2020. This means less than 1% of all motor vehicle accidents result in a death.
What Type of Accidents Are Most Likely to Result in a Fatality?
It is important to consider causes of car accidents that result in a death, as some types of collisions are more likely to result in fatalities than others.
Drunk driving and speeding were two leading causes of fatal accidents, causing 11,654 and 11,259 road fatalities respectively during the course of 2020. Distracted drivers were also a leading cause of fatal collisions, with 2,974 fatal crashes attributed to drivers who failed to keep their focus on the roads.
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Car Accidents Statistics by Age
Car accident statistics show people of all ages can become involved in motor vehicle accidents. But younger drivers face a great risk in part due to inexperience and increased risk taking
What Percentage of Fatalities Were as Minors?
Car accidents are common among motorists and passengers under the age of 20. A total of 11% of all car accident fatalities in 2020 involved minors within this age range, with 4,414 people under 20 dying in crashes during the course of that year. Injuries among young motorists were also common, with a total of 437,677 people under 20 getting hurt in collisions in 2020.
Fatalities by age range
Car crash statistics show the period after teens first become legally eligible to drive is an especially dangerous one. In fact, there are double the number of car accident fatalities among motorists ages 16 to 20 compared with passengers ages 10 to 15.
Despite the risks associated with newly-licensed motorists, slightly older drivers--those between the ages of 25 and 34--are actually the demographic group most likely to be killed or hurt in motor vehicle accidents.
How Many Teenagers Drink and Drive?
DUI statistics show many teen drivers take unacceptable risks by consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
A shocking 10% of all teenagers in high school admit to drinking and driving,  while 17% of high schoolers indicate they have gotten into a car at least once with a driver who has consumed alcohol prior to operating the vehicle.
With these troubling DUI statistics, it should come as no surprise that 29% of teen drivers who are involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents have been found to have alcohol in their system at the time of the deadly accident.
How Many Seniors Get into Car Accidents?
Older Americans are also a concern behind the wheel, as they may begin to experience delayed reaction time or other cognitive or physical impairments affecting their ability to safely operate vehicles.
In 2020 alone, more than 6,500 people 65 and older died in motor vehicle accidents and more than 230,000 were hurt in crashes.
Car Accident Statistics by Gender
Both men and women can be killed or hurt in collisions, but car crash statistics show the risks are not equal among the genders.
Who Is More Likely to Die in a Car Accident?
Men are far more likely than women to be killed or hurt in motor vehicle accidents. A total of 28,033 males died in collisions in 2020 compared with 10,690 females. There were also 1,159,030 injured males compared with 1,122,884 injured females.
What Gender Drinks and Drives More?
One reason the roads are deadlier for men may relate to increased drinking and driving. Just 13,033 fatal car accidents in 2020 involved female drunk drivers compared with 39,393 fatal DUI car accidents involving males.
Driving Behavior by Gender
Men are also more likely than females to engage in a number of other high-risk behaviors on the roads including aggressive driving and speeding.
Forbes Advisor found a total of 31.5% of male survey respondents admitted to quick lane switches and other aggressive driving behaviors compared with 21.4% of females. Men were also more likely to admit to:
- Driving through red lights (32.2% compared with 30% of females) 
- Driving 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit (52% of males compared with 44.6% of females)
Despite this discrepancy, drivers of both genders take unacceptable risks on the road, with a total of 80% of motorists admitting to aggressive driving behaviors.
There is some good news, though. Drivers tend to become more risk averse as they age. In fact, speeding in drivers declines with time, with the highest rates of speeding occurring in drivers ages 16 to 20. Among these younger motorists, 35% of male drivers speed, along with 18% of their female counterparts.
Car Accident Statistics by State
In the majority of the United States, the roads are becoming more dangerous. In fact, between 2020 and 2021, there was an increase in motor vehicle accident fatalities in all but six states.
However, this does not mean all states present equal risk. There is wide variation in the number of fatalities occurring across the U.S.
- Montana saw 213 car accident deaths in 2020 and is the most dangerous state for drivers. This is, in part, attributed to the fact the state has the highest DUI rates of anyplace in the country. A total of 51% of all Montana car accidents involve intoxicated drivers.
- New Jersey was the safest state for drivers, with low rates of speeding-related accidents, drunk driving crashes and fatal accidents in general.
- Southern states tended to be riskier for motorists overall, with South Carolina, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina all found among the 10 highest-risk states for motorists.
- South Carolina and Colorado are the two riskiest states when it comes to speeding drivers, with 46% of fatal crashes in each location involving drivers going too fast.
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Accidents by Vehicle Type
Finally, car accident statistics show some modes of transportation are riskier than others. Pedestrians and motorcycle riders, for example, face outsized risk due to limited protection available to them when struck by a vehicle.
What’s the Most Dangerous Type of Vehicle for Accidents?
Passenger cars were involved in the highest number of fatal accidents and the highest number of injury-causing accidents on the roadways.
A total of 20,868 fatal accidents involved passenger cars, while 50,735 injury-causing crashes occurred in these types of vehicles. These car crash statistics are likely explained by the fact passenger cars are very common on roadways.
Both 4-door sedans and station wagons were especially prevalent among vehicles involved in fatal crashes, accounting for 14,822 and 2,149 deadly collisions respectively.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycles put drivers at increased risk of serious injuries in collisions. A total of 88,107 motorcycle accidents occurred in the U.S. in 2020, 82,528 of which resulted in injury. These crashes also caused 5,579 motorcycle fatalities and injuries.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
Pedestrians are also in danger on U.S. roadways, with 54,769 crashes injuring pedestrians and 6,516 fatal pedestrian accidents in 2020 alone.
Truck Accident Statistics
Both large and small trucks can become involved in crashes, but collisions with light trucks are more common. A total of 20,566 fatal car accidents involved light trucks in 2020, including 8,779 involving light pickup trucks. By contrast, semi trucks and other large trucks were involved in 4,482 fatal car accidents during the same year.
What Percentage of Accidents Involved Uber or Other Ride-Sharing Vehicles?
There is a bright spot among car accident statistics. Just 42 fatalities in 2020 involved the ridesharing service Uber, according to the company.
Visit our hub to view morestatistic pages.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: National Statistics
- Forbes Advisor. The Most Dangerous States For Drivers
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Fatality Facts 2020 Yearly Snapshot
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Homepage
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Teen Drinking and Driving
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute: Teen Driver Source
- Forbes Advisor: Men Are More Aggressive Drivers, But When It Comes To Speeding, Women Are Not Far Behind
- AAA: Survey Says: Men Are More Aggressive Behind the Wheel
- National Safety Council: Motor Vehicle Safety Issues: Speeding
- USA Today: US traffic fatalities highest in 16 years as nearly 43,000 people died on roads in 2021
- Uber: U.S. Safety Report 2019 to 2020