Preliminary Monthly Estimates

Monthly Preliminary Motor-Vehicle Fatality Estimates – May 2020


May motor-vehicle death rate up more than 23%

Because of COVID-19 related impacts, the number of miles driven in the first five months of 2020 decreased 17.3% compared to 2019. The number of miles driven in May 2020 decreased 25.5% compared to May 2019. Deaths for 2020 to date total 13,890. This preliminary estimate is down 6% compared to the first five months of 2019. Motor-vehicle deaths in May 2020 totaled 3,140. This preliminary estimate is down 8% from May 2019. However, because of the large decrease in miles driven, the monthly mileage death rates increased 23.5% compared to May 2019. This increase is in spite of the 8% decrease in deaths. The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven for May 2020 is 1.47, compared to 1.19 in 2019.

Mileage source: Federal Highway Administration

The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage through May was $156.7 billion.

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Through May, motor-vehicle deaths in 2020 decreased by more than 30 in nine states compared to the first five months last year:

  • Tennessee (-248 deaths, -58%)
  • Florida (-62 deaths, -4%)
  • Pennsylvania (-57 deaths, -13%)
  • Mississippi (-53 deaths, -21%)
  • South Carolina (-48 deaths, -13%)
  • Michigan (-45 deaths, -13%)
  • Arizona (-41 deaths, -10%)
  • Maryland (-35 deaths, -18%)
  • Wyoming (-33 deaths, -52%)

Six states experienced an increases of 15 or more deaths:

  • Louisiana (+40 deaths, +15%)
  • Missouri (+36 deaths, +12%)
  • North Carolina (+33 deaths, +6%)
  • Connecticut (+32 deaths, +39%)
  • Arkansas (+20 deaths, +10%)
  • New Hampshire (+15 deaths, +63%)

The line chart below compares the 2020 monthly fatality trends against the 2019 trends through May. In May, 30 states and the District of Columbia reported fewer deaths compared to May 2019 preliminary reports, 3 states reported no change, 16 states reported more deaths this May than last May, and 1 state did not provide a May estimates to the National Safety Council (NSC). Please use the data table to view detailed state preliminary estimates.

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How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables

How NSC Calculates Crash Fatality Estimates

NSC collects preliminary motor-vehicle fatality estimates from data reporters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. State data reporters generally work in state Department of Transportation offices and are often the same individuals responsible for providing data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Each month, state data reporters provide a first estimate for the previous month’s fatalities and updated estimates for all previously reported months.

NSC maintains a three-year database of all state motor-vehicle fatality estimate reports. Using January as an example, the NSC database includes the January estimate first reported in February, as well as any updated January estimates reported in March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, and a final updated estimate collected in August of the following year.

Fatality estimates tend to mature over the course of the year. Numbers often increase as fatalities are confirmed. Because of the maturation of the data, NSC calculates year-to-year percent change estimates by comparing monthly motor-vehicle estimates of comparable maturity.

To calculate national fatality estimates, percent change estimates are multiplied by the most recently available final motor-vehicle fatality estimates reported by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Therefore, NSC estimates reflect the NCHS definition of motor-vehicle fatalities as both traffic and non-traffic deaths that occur within a year of the incident. Since NHTSA counts only traffic deaths that occur within 30 days of the incident, NSC motor-vehicle fatality estimates are not comparable to NHTSA figures.

All state level data is displayed as reported by each state. All fatality estimates are preliminary. To ensure proper comparisons, 2019 state fatality estimates are preliminary figures covering the same reporting period as those for 2020. In other words, preliminary 2020 estimates are compared to preliminary 2019 estimates, even if updated estimates are available.

See data details