California DUI attorney's NHTSA related statistics
The cost and crashworthiness of vehicles as well as drivers’ safety habits affect the cost of auto insurance. In 2006, 42,642 people died in motor vehicle crashes and an additional 2,575,000 people were injured, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Out of concern for public safety and to help reduce the cost of crashes, insurers support safe driving initiatives. In 1969 the insurance industry created the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an organization best known for its vehicle crashworthiness testing program. The industry has also fought to get auto manufacturers to make air bags standard equipment in vehicles and is a major supporter of antidrunk driving and seat-belt usage campaigns. Drivers themselves have also contributed to the reduction in crash-related fatalities by demanding safer vehicles.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages two to 34.
A motor vehicle death occurs on average every 12 minutes and an injury every 12 seconds. About 117 people died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 2006.
Since the first documented crash death in 1899, more than 30 million people worldwide have died in traffic crashes.
FATALITIES AND INJURIES
Overall: The U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatal Analysis Reporting System in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov ) division reports that 42,642 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2006, down 2.0 percent from 43,510 in 2005. 2006 motor vehicle fatalities were at the lowest level in five years. While deaths among passenger vehicle occupants and nonoccupants fell in 2006, motorcycle riders suffered a 5.1 percent increase. This was the ninth consecutive annual increase in motorcycle rider deaths.
In 2006, the number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes fell 4.6 percent from 2,699,000 in 2005 to 2,575,000 in 2006.
By Vehicle Miles Traveled: The fatality rate—measured as deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled—was 1.41 in 2006, down from 1.46 in 2005.
By Crash Type: In 2006, there were 5,973,588 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes, down 3.0 percent from 6,159,252 in 2005. Of total crashes, 1,746,000 caused injuries and 4,189,000 caused property damage only. NHTSA estimates 10 million or more crashes go unreported every year.
Work-Related: In 2006 crashes involving vehicles on public roadways were the leading cause of work-related fatalities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting for 23 percent of all fatal work injuries.
By Age Group: In 2006, older people (65 and older) made up 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, 14 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities and 19 percent of pedestrian fatalities, in large part because they are frailer and more likely to die from their injuries than younger people. (See Older Drivers paper.) In 2005 (latest data available) there were 29 million older licensed drivers, up from 17 percent in 1995. The total number of drivers rose only 14 percent from 1995 to 2005.
In 2006 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 accounted for 12.9 percent of all drivers in fatal crashes and for 16 percent of all drivers in police-reported crashes. In 2005 (latest available data) drivers in this age group accounted for 6.3 percent of all licensed drivers. To reduce high accident rates among young drivers, states are increasingly adopting graduated driver license programs, which allow young drivers to improve their skills and driving habits. (See Teen Driving paper).
By Driver Behavior
Speeding: In 2006, 13,543 lives were lost due to speed-related accidents. Speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes. In 2006, 39 percent of 15- to 20-year-old male drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. NHTSA says that speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year. A crash is considered speed related when the driver is charged with a speed-related offense or a law enforcement officer indicates that exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions or racing was a contributing factor.
Drunk Driving: There is an alcohol-related traffic fatality every 29 minutes. In 2006, 17,602 people died in alcohol-related crashes, up slightly from 17,590 in 2005 and was the highest level since 1996. Alcohol was involved in 41 percent of all crash fatalities in 2006. (See Drunk Driving paper.) Alcohol-related crashes are defined as those where someone involved, either a driver or a nonoccupant such as a pedestrian or bicyclist, had a traceable amount of alcohol in his or her blood.
Drunk Driving and Speeding: In 2006, 41 percent of intoxicated drivers (with a blood-alcohol content at or above 0.08, the definition of drunkenness) involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 15 percent of sober drivers involved in fatal crashes.
Red Light Running: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that more than 900 people a year die and nearly 2,000 are injured as a result of vehicles running red lights. About half of those deaths are pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles who are hit by red light runners.
Fatigue: NHTSA statistics show that at least 100,000 crashes and 1,500 deaths each year are the result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel. A 2002 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 100 million drivers, close to half of American adult drivers, drive while drowsy and nearly two out of ten admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel. New Jersey passed a law in 2003 that equates falling asleep at the wheel with reckless driving, and if a driver falls asleep and kills someone in a crash, he or she can be charged with vehicular homicide and serve up to ten years in jail and pay fines. Although at least four states have considered similar legislation, New Jersey is the only state with such a law on the books.
Distracted Driving: A study sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, which surveyed 1,200 drivers between the ages of 18 and 60, found that 81 percent of drivers “multitasked” (engaged in distracting behaviors while driving) at least sometimes. One in eight said he or she changed radio stations or CDs. The same proportion acknowledged drinking a beverage. Almost three-quarters talked on a cell phone, and 68 percent ate a snack. Twenty-three percent acknowledged they experienced road rage and 4 percent said they have driven while intoxicated.
The January 2007 study also found that the youngest drivers, age 18 to 27, were the most likely to always multitask while driving—35 percent. Thirty percent of drivers age 28 to 44 always multitasked and 21 percent of the 45-to 60-year-olds always multitasked.
Some form of driver inattention was involved in almost 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes within three seconds of the event, according to an April 2006 study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study broke new ground—earlier research found that driver inattention was responsible for 25 to 30 percent of crashes. The 2006 study found that the most common distraction was the use of cell phones, followed by drowsiness. However, cell phone use was far less likely to be the cause of a crash or near-miss than other distractions. For example, while reaching for a moving object such as a falling cup increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by nine times, talking or listening on a hand-held cell phone only increased the risk by 1.3 times. The study tracked the behavior of the 241 drivers of 100 vehicles for more than one year. The drivers were involved in 82 crashes, 761 near-crashes and 8,295 critical incidents. (See also Cell Phones and Driving.)
Cell Phone Use: In July 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Center for Statistics and Analysis released the results of their National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which found that in 2006 5 percent of drivers used hand-held cell phones, down from 6 percent in 2005, the first decline since the survey began tracking hand-held cell phone use in 2000. The decline in use occurred in a number of driver categories, including female drivers (down from 8 to 6 percent), drivers in the Midwest (down from 8 to 4 percent), drivers age 25 to 69 (down from 6 to 4 percent) and drivers of passenger cars (down from 6 to 4 percent) to name but a few. NOPUS is a probability-based observational survey. Data on driver cell-phone use were collected at random stop signs or stoplights only while vehicles were stopped and only during daylight hours. (See also Cell Phones and Driving.)
Many studies have shown that using hand-held cell phones while driving can constitute a hazardous distraction. However, the theory that hands-free sets are safer has been challenged by the findings of several studies. A study from researchers at the University of Utah, published in the summer 2006 issue of Human Factors concludes that talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, even if the phone is a hands-free model. An earlier study by researchers at the university found that motorists who talked on hands-free cell phones were 18 percent slower in braking and took 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.
Deer Collisions: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The average claim for collision damage is about $3,000, with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage; claims involving medical payments can add thousands of dollars, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Some states experience more deer collisions than others. According to a study of annual claim statistics, the states with the highest number of accidents involving deer from 2005 to 2006 were: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, Indiana and South Carolina. The deer migration and mating season generally runs from October through December, and causes a dramatic increase in the movement of the deer population. As a result, more deer-vehicle collisions occur during this period than at any other time of year.
Hit and Run Crashes: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were 1,106 fatal hit and run crashes in 2005, that is, crashes where the driver left the scene after a collision with a person not in a motor vehicle. In this analysis NHTSA does not include hit and run collisions between vehicles only. Hit and run crashes in 2005 were up 20.6 percent from 917 in 2000. In 2005, 2,610 people died in these crashes, a 14.4 percent increase from 2,281 in 2000. There were 1,231 vehicles involved in these crashes I n 2006, up 20.0 percent from 1,026 in 2000.
SUVs: The number of people killed in SUV rollover crashes fell 0.2 percent from 2,895 in 2005 to 2,888 in 2006, according to NHTSA. In 2006 SUVs had the highest occupant fatality rate of any vehicle type in rollover crashes at 7.77 per 100,000 registered vehicles. This compares with 6.98 for pickup trucks, 3.10 for vans and 3.18 for passenger cars.
Motorcycles: NHTSA says that in 2006, 4,810 motorcyclists died in crashes, marking the ninth consecutive year of increasing motorcycle deaths and a 5.1 percent increase from 4,576 in 2005. 2006 fatalities were the highest since 1981. In addition, motorcycle rider fatalities increased to 11.3 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities, compared with 5.0 percent in 1997. (See Motorcycle Crashes paper.) Between 1997 and 2006, motorcycle fatalities rose 127 percent. In 2005 (latest data available for registration statistics) motorcycles accounted for about 3 percent of all registered motor vehicles and 0.4 percent of vehicle miles traveled. However, per vehicle mile traveled in 2005, motorcyclists were about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash and eight times more likely to be injured.
Large Trucks: According to NHTSA, 4,995 people died in crashes involving large trucks in 2006, compared with 5,240 in 2005, a decrease of 4.7 percent. Although large trucks amounted to 3 percent of all registered vehicles in 2005 (latest year available for registration statistics), they accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2006. One out of nine traffic fatalities in 2006 resulted from a collision involving a large truck.
Crashworthiness: Crashworthiness, a term which refers to how well vehicles withstand different types of crashes, varies by category of vehicle as well as by make, model and year. Two groups conduct tests to determine crashworthiness—the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is an insurance-funded organization, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The IIHS conducts four types of tests on a large variety of vehicles: Low speed crash tests, rear crash protection tests, side impact crash tests and 40-mph frontal crash offset tests. NHTSA conducts two tests that are similar to the IIHS’s frontal crash and side crash tests. NHTSA also publishes rollover safety ratings by make and model year, and tire ratings by brand. The IIHS vehicle ratings can be found on the Internet at http://www.highwaysafety.org; NHTSA test results can be found at http://www.safercar.gov
Bumpers: In March 2007, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released the results of research using new bumper tests. Four new tests assess over and underride, which occur when vehicle bumpers slide over and under each other because they don’t line up. These collisions produce some of the most costly low-speed crash damage. The new tests can better match the damage that occurs in real-world collisions. The results show that of 17 midsize cars, only three withstood the four tests with $1,500 or less in repair costs in each test. Some vehicles had over $4,500 in damage in only one of the tests, and two cars sustained over $9,000 in total damage. In addition, bumpers kept damage away from headlights, hoods and other expensive parts in only two of the 68 tests the IIHS conducted.
The IIHS released bumper test results of 11 luxury cars in August 2007. The worst performer sustained almost $14,000 in damage in the four tests, while the best sustained about $5,000. Only three cars experienced less than $6,000 in damage, while four would cost more than $10,000 to fix after the crashes. The IIHS says that besides the problems of bumper mismatch on these cars, the bars under the bumper covers which are supposed to absorb crash energy are not effective. Another major factor driving the high repair costs is the price of replacement parts. The IIHS says that this is especially true for luxury cars, which are expensive not only to purchase but also to repair.
Lives Saved by Safety Devices
Airbags: Airbags are designed to inflate in moderate to severe frontal crashes. NHTSA estimates that by 2006, more than 177 million passenger vehicles were equipped with airbags, including 162 million with dual airbags. NHTSA says that airbags saved 2,796 lives in 2006. From 1987 to 2006, 22,466 lives were saved by the devices. Airbags, combined with seat belts, are the most effective safety protection available for passenger vehicles. Seat belts alone reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent. The fatality-reducing effectiveness for air bags is 14 percent when no seat belt is used and 11 percent when a seat belt is used in conjunction with air bags. Side airbags that protect the head, chest and abdomen reduce driver deaths by an estimated 37 percent, according to the IIHS. Side airbags without head protection, which protect only the chest and abdomen, are less effective but still reduce deaths by about 26 percent, according to a 2006 study. Head-protecting side airbags reduce driver deaths when cars are struck by SUVs and light trucks, probably because when cars are struck in the side by these higher riding vehicles, heads are more vulnerable.
Seat Belts: Among passenger vehicle occupants over the age of four, seat belts saved an estimated 15,383 lives in 2006. Seat belts are effective in protecting occupants from ejection, one of the most injurious results of a crash, according to NHTSA. In fatal crashes in 2006, 75 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed. Only 1 percent of occupants reported to have been using restraints were total ejected, compared with 31 percent of unrestrained occupants. Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.
Child Safety Seats: NHTSA says that in 2006 the lives of an estimated 425 children under the age of five were saved by restraints—392 of them by child safety seats alone. If all children under the age of five had been placed in child safety seats in 2006, another 196 lives could have been saved. From 1975 through 2006, NHTSA estimates that 8,325 lives were saved by restraints (child safety seats or adult seat-belts).
Motorcycle Helmets: Helmets saved 1,648 lives in 2006, according to NHTSA, and could have saved an additional 752 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists.
Electronic Stability Control: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require all vehicles for the model year 2012 to have electronic stability control (ESC). ESC was designed to help prevent rollovers and other types of crashes by controlling brakes and engine power. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that ESC would save 10,000 lives each year if all vehicles had the system. By 2009, 55 percent of all vehicles must have ESC.
Insurer Safety Discounts: Insurers offer discounts to encourage drivers to focus on safety. The majority of states mandate discounts for drivers who have completed approved driver improvement courses, mostly for motorists over the age of 55. Three states require insurers to give discounts, in some cases specifying the actual percentage, for cars equipped with air bags (although they are standard equipment on most cars now) and three require discounts for automatic seat belts. Florida and New York require insurers to give discounts for cars with antilock brakes. Some insurers have nationwide discounts in place. State Farm, for example, offers as much as a 15 percent discount for drivers under age 25 who complete a safe driving program.
At least two insurers offer insurance discounts to owners of “hybrid” cars, which combine a battery-powered engine with a traditional gas engine. One offers a 10 percent discount on all auto insurance coverages, except uninsured motorist and personal injury protection (PIP), basing the discount on the driver rather than on a safety device or safety training. According to the insurer, hybrid owners are less risky drivers than the average driver, based on demographics, driving records, credit data, marital status and driving patterns. The other insurer offers a 10 percent discount (5 percent in California) on all major coverages, including uninsured motorists and PIP.
Seat-Belt Use Laws: Seat-belt use laws are on the books in every state except New Hampshire. However, only 26 states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement laws. Primary seat-belt laws allow law enforcement officers to stop a car for noncompliance with seat-belt laws (See chart in following section). In the other states, which have secondary enforcement laws, drivers may only be stopped and they and their passengers ticketed, if they have violated other traffic safety laws. In New Hampshire, legislation requiring seat belt use was rejected by the Senate in May 2007, leaving it the only state in the nation that does not have a law requiring adults to wear seat belts.
NHSTA says that states with primary enforcement laws have lower fatality rates. The agency compared the percentage of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities and fatality rates between states that have primary safety- belt use laws and states that do not have them for 2000–2004. Besides having a smaller percentage of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities that were unrestrained, the fatality rates in primary enforcement states were much lower than for all other states. In primary enforcement states the passenger vehicle occupant fatality rates were 1.03 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled and 10.69 per 100,000 population. This compares to 1.21 and 13.13 (respectively) for all other states.
Seat-belt use in the United States stood at 81 percent in June 2006, compared with 82 percent in 2005, according to NHTSA. New incentives to increase seat-belt use were included in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Act of 2005. The Act makes $498 million available for distribution over four years to states that enact primary seat-belt laws or reach 85 percent belt use for two years.