Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths | VitalSigns

Motor vehicle crash deaths in the US are still too high.

There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013. These deaths cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs.

Major risk factors for crash deaths in the US.
  • Not using seat belts, car seats, and booster seats contributed to over 9,500 crash deaths.
  • Drunk driving contributed to more than 10,000 crash deaths.
  • Speeding contributed to more than 9,500 crash deaths.

Reducing major risk factors could save thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars in direct medical costs each year.

Seat belts saved over 12,500 lives in the US in 2013, yet:
  • The US had lower-than-average front and back seat belt use compared with other high-income countries.
  • About half of drivers or passengers who died in crashes in the US weren’t buckled up.
Some proven measures of best performing high-income countries.

Even when considering population size, miles traveled, and number of registered vehicles, the US consistently ranked poorly relative to other high-income countries for crash deaths. Some of the best performing countries:

  • Have policies in line with best practices, including those that address:
    • Primary enforcement of seat belt laws that cover everyone in every seat.
      • Police officers can stop a vehicle and write a ticket for anyone not buckled up.
    • Requirements for car seats and booster seats for child passengers through at least age 8.
    • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels.
      • US, Canada and the United Kingdom define drunk driving as BAC levels at 0.08% or above; all other comparison countries use lower BAC levels (0.02-0.05%).
  • Use advanced engineering and technology, such as:
    • Ignition interlocks for all people convicted of drunk driving.
      • This device keeps the vehicle from starting unless the driver has a BAC below a pre-set low limit.
    • Automated enforcement, for example, speed and red light cameras.
    • Improvements in vehicle safety and transportation infrastructure.
  • Implement proven measures, such as:
    • More use of publicized sobriety checkpoints.
    • Maintain and enforce the minimum legal drinking age.

Graphic: Front seat belt use in the US and selected high-income countries.

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