Odds of Dying

Your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose continue to be greater than dying in a motor-vehicle crash


Fear is natural and healthy. It can help us respond to danger more quickly or avoid a dangerous situation altogether. It can also cause us to worry about the wrong things, especially when it comes to estimating our level of risk.

If we overestimate our risk in one area, it can lead to anxiety and interfere with carrying out our normal daily routine. Ironically, it also leads us to underestimate real risks that can injure or kill us.

It can be difficult to accurately assess the biggest risks we face. Plane crashes, being struck by lightning, or being attacked by a dog are common fears, but what about falls, the danger inside of a bottle of pills, or your drive to work?

Knowing the odds is the first step in beating them. But, not all risks faced in life can be accurately estimated. Many people would like to know their odds of dying in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the infographic to understand why odds of dying estimates are not yet available. To explore current COVID-19 case and fatality trends in the United States please visit the COVID-19 page.



View the video for the latest odds of dying estimates. Also provided is a summary table of some of the top causes of death. Please use the data details tab to explore all the odds of dying estimates.

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2018
Cause of Death Odds of Dying
Heart disease 1 in 6
Cancer 1 in 7
All preventable causes of death 1 in 25
Chronic lower respiratory disease 1 in 26
Suicide 1 in 86
Opioid overdose 1 in 98
Motor-vehicle crash 1 in 106
Fall 1 in 111
Gun assault 1 in 298
Pedestrian incident 1 in 541
Motorcyclist 1 in 890
Drowning 1 in 1,121
Fire or smoke 1 in 1,399
Choking on food 1 in 2,618
Bicyclist 1 in 4,060
Sunstroke 1 in 7,770
Accidental gun discharge 1 in 9,077
Electrocution, radiation, extreme temperatures, and pressure 1 in 12,484
Sharp objects 1 in 29,483
Hot surfaces and substances 1 in 45,186
Hornet, wasp, and bee stings 1 in 53,989
Cataclysmic storm 1 in 54,699
Dog attack 1 in 118,776
Lightning 1 in 180,746
Railway passenger Too few deaths in 2018 to calculate odds
Passenger on an airplane Too few deaths in 2018 to calculate odds

Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics—Mortality Data for 2018, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.  Population and life expectancy data are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Deaths are classified on the basis of the 10th Revision of the World Health Organization’s “The International Classification of Diseases” (ICD). Numbers following titles refer to External Cause of Morbidity and Mortality classifications in ICD-10.

See data details