Introduction

For the second consecutive year more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017.

Between 1913 and 2017, motor-vehicle deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles decreased 96%, from 33 to 1.47. In 1913, only 1.3 million vehicles were registered, and 4,200 people died on the road. In 2017, 273 million vehicles were registered and 40,231 people died.

In 2017, the mileage death rate of 1.25 per 100 million vehicle miles was down 1.6% from the 2016 rate of 1.27.

Medically consulted injuries in motor vehicle incidents totaled 4.6 million in 2017, and total motor vehicle injury costs were estimated at $433.8 billion. Costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor-vehicle property damage and employer costs.

Motor vehicle deaths remained relatively stable with a decrease of less than 0.5% from 2016 to 2017, following two consecutive years  of increase of greater than 6.5%.

Miles traveled increased 1.2%, the number of registered vehicles went up 1.6% and the population grew 0.8%. As a result, the mileage death rate decreased 1.6%, the vehicle death rate decreased 2.0% and the population death rate was down 0.8% from 2016 to 2017.

  • Chart
  • Data Table

Compared to 2008, 2017 motor vehicle deaths increased by about 1%. However the mileage, registration and population death rates all decreased by more than 5% since 2008 (see chart).

2017 motor vehicle crash highlights

Deaths 40,231
Medically consulted injuries 4.6 million
Cost 433.8 billion
Motor vehicle mileage 3.213 billion
Registered vehicles in the United States 273 million
Licensed drivers in the United States 225 million
Death rate per 100 million vehicle miles 1.25
Death rate per 10,000 registered vehicles 1.47
Death rate per 100,000 population 12.35

The National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration count motor vehicle crash deaths using somewhat different criteria. NSC counts total motor vehicle-related fatalities – both traffic and non-traffic – that occur within one year of the crash. This is consistent with the data compiled from death certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics. NSC uses NCHS death certificate data, less intentional fatalities, as the final count of unintentional deaths from all causes.

NHTSA counts only traffic fatalities that occur within 30 days of the crash in its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. This omits about 800 to 1,000 motor vehicle-related deaths each year that occur more than 30 days after the crash. Non-traffic fatalities – those that occur in parking lots, private roads and driveways and account for 900 to 1,900 deaths annually – also are omitted. By using a 30-day cutoff, NHTSA can issue a “final” count about eight months after the reference year.

Provided below is a summary of NSC’s and NHTSA’s traffic crash data for 2017:

Motor-vehicle crash outcomes, United States, 2017

NSC estimates:

Severity Deaths or injuries Crashes Drivers (vehicles) involved
Total Motor Vehicle (deaths within 1 year) 40,231 37,100 56,600
Medically consulted injury 4,600,000 3,200,000 5,900,000
Property damage (including unreported) and nondisabling injury 10,600,000 18,800,000
Total  – 13,800,000 24,800,000

NHTSA estimates:

Severity Deaths or injuries Crashes Drivers (vehicles) involved
Traffic (deaths within 30 days) 37,133 34,247 52,274

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for deaths, injuries, and crashes in bottom half of table. All other figures are National Safety Council estimates.