Disparities by Race or Ethnic Origin

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found:

  • Non-Hispanic Blacks experience a passenger vehicle fatality rate 73% higher than non-Hispanic whites
  • Non-Hispanic Blacks experience a pedestrian (walking) death rate 118% higher than non-Hispanic whites
  • Non-Hispanic Blacks experience a cycling fatality rate 348% higher than non-Hispanic whites
  • Non-Hispanic Asians experience the lowest rates across all three transportation modes

The disparities are even sharper when comparing fatality rates for pedestrian (walking) deaths occurring at night:

  • Non-Hispanic Black pedestrians experience a fatality rate 236% higher than non-Hispanic whites
  • Hispanic or Latino pedestrians experience a fatality rate 84% higher than non-Hispanic whites

Explore other race or ethnic origin comparisons using the chart below. By adjusting the filters, data on fatality rates, fatalities, person miles traveled, and average miles traveled per person by race or ethnic origin are available.

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How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables

These fatality rate comparisons are calculated based on 100 million person miles traveled using data collected by the 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) and 2016-2018 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The 2017 NHTS is a nationally representative survey of travel behavior conducted from April 2016 through April 2017. The 2017 survey is the latest in the series updated in 1969, 1977, 1983, 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2009.

During the survey period, researchers collected data from roughly 130,000 households, representing 275,000 U.S. residents, that were sampled based on postal address lists.  They mailed sampled households a survey form with a small incentive and asked them to join the survey by either logging on to the website or mailing the form back. Each participating household reported all travel by household members on a randomly assigned 24-hour single “travel day.” They assigned travel days for all seven days of the week, including all holidays. Weighting reflected the day of week and month of travel to allow comparisons of weekdays or seasons.

Given yearly mileage estimates are not available, converting NHTS fatality data mileage-based fatality rates by race or ethnic origin is not possible. Without mileage-based fatality rates, simply tracking the number of fatalities does not uncover the relative fatality risk faced by groups. As shown in the three line charts below, white non-Hispanics experience far more passenger vehicle occupant deaths, pedestrian deaths, and cycling deaths than any other group. Without the context provided by the mileage-based fatality rates, a full picture of the risks faced by different groups is not possible.

Even without the necessary context provided by rates, a few trends are evident:

  • White non-Hispanic passenger vehicle occupants have experienced three consecutive years of decreasing deaths.
  • Hispanic or Latino passenger vehicle occupants have experienced 10 consecutive years of increasing deaths.
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Pedestrian fatality trends are also apparent:

  • White non-Hispanic pedestrians have experienced two consecutive years of decreasing deaths.
  • Hispanic or Latino pedestrians have experienced 13 consecutive years of increasing deaths.
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Bicycling fatality trends show that over the last 10 years:

  • Bicycling fatalities among white non-Hispanics have increased 27%
  • Bicycling fatalities among Hispanic or Latinos have increased 46%
  • Bicycling fatalities among Black non-Hispanics have increased 48%
  • Bicycling fatalities among Asian non-Hispanics have increased 70%
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The race or ethnic origin categories used by NHTSA follow an Office of Management and Budget directive last revised in 1997 (Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting):

  • White
  • Black or African-American
  • Asian
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic or Latino

Persons identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. The race categories shown exclude data for Hispanics or Latinos.

Source: Raifman, M.A. & Choma, E.F. (2022). Disparities in Activity and Traffic Fatalities by Race/Ethnicity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 63(2):160-167.
Fatality trend data: National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of NHTSA FARS data