Deaths by Age and Cause

The graph below depicts U.S. deaths and death rates per 100,000 population for the six leading causes of unintentional injury-related deaths in 2018 by age, through age 99. Additional years of data are also available (see Using the Charts and Tables).

  • Chart
  • Data Table
How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables


#1: Poisoning

  • Average of 19.9 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Rate increased steadily from about age 15 to its peak of 41.8 at age 36
  • Leading cause of preventable death for all ages, combined, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Leading cause of preventable death for every age from 23 to 64
  • Largely due to the opioid epidemic affecting millions of people in the United States
  • Every day, 118 people die from preventable poisonings due to opioid drugs


#2: Motor-vehicle crashes

  • Average rate of 12.4 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Peaked among persons age 18-25; high of 21.0 at age 21
  • Higher secondary peak for older drivers: 26.4 at age 86, followed by 25.4 at age 90, and 24.6 at age 92


#3: Falls


#4: Choking

  • Average rate of 1.6 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Death rates due to choking on inhaled or ingested food or other objects were quite low for most ages
  • Rates rose rapidly beginning at about age 79


#5: Drowning

  • Average rate of 1.1 deaths per 100,000 population
  • While relatively stable and low for all ages, the death rates for drowning showed peaks in the first few years of life and again at some very old ages
  • Leading cause of preventable death for 2-year-olds


#6: Fire, Flames or Smoke

  • Average rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Slightly elevated at very young ages; climbing at about age 75

Among infants younger than 1, mechanical suffocation was the leading cause of preventable-injury death, followed by motor-vehicle incidents. Drowning deaths were the leading cause of death among 1-year-olds, closely followed by motor-vehicle. For 2-year-olds the same was true, with drowning the leading cause of death, followed by motor-vehicle fatalities.