How Many People Die From Car Accidents Every Year in the US?

With approximately 46,000 fatal crashes on US roads each year, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for Americans under age 55.

Many factors contribute to these fatal crashes on US roadways, and many such fatalities are preventable. If you lost a loved one in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, a car accident lawyer can advocate for your legal rights.

Causes of Car Accident Deaths in the US

car accidents

A recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that traffic fatalities in the US were at a 16-year high. Car accidents can occur on any road and often involve multiple parties. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), certain factors increase the likelihood of a fatal accident, including:


Speeding is one of the primary contributing factors to car accident deaths in the US. The IIHS reports that approximately 29% of motor vehicle crash deaths involve vehicles driving over the posted speed limit or driving too fast for road conditions.

When a driver is going too fast for the current weather or road conditions, they are more likely to lose control of their vehicle. In addition, a speeding driver has less time to react to dangerous situations, so there is less time to swerve or brake. Fatalities are much more likely to occur at higher speeds because the force of the impact is greater.

Distracted Driving

Drivers should always be alert and pay attention to the road, but it’s easy for even seasoned, experienced drivers to let their minds wander. In fact, over half of all distracted drivers in accidents admitted to daydreaming or being lost in thought just before the accident occurred.

Distractions that could lead to a car accident include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Cell phone use
  • Distracting events outside the vehicle
  • Distracting occupants, animals, or other objects inside the vehicle
  • Using or reaching for a phone or GPS device
  • Eating and drinking
  • Adjusting the vehicle’s climate control, audio system, mirrors, seats, and navigation systems

Improper Driving and Road Rage

Improper driving and road rage are increasingly common causes of car accidents in the United States. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), improper driving may include:

  • Speeding
  • Careless driving
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way
  • Improper lane usage
  • Erratic, reckless, or negligent driving
  • Failure to obey traffic signals, signs, or officers
  • Overcorrections
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Improper lane changes
  • Tailgating
  • Improper turns
  • Improper passing
  • Aggressive driving and road rage

Recent studies indicate that road rage and aggression on the road have increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The pandemic and associated lockdowns introduced additional stress and frustration into drivers’ lives. Higher traffic density and volume also contribute to aggressive driving.

Holiday Driving

The NSC reports that holiday traveling is associated with a higher number of fatal car crashes in the US. Drivers are more likely to be distracted by other people in the car, phone calls, texts, and navigation devices while they travel on family vacations.

When traveling during the holidays, drivers may be on a tight schedule, prompting them to drive faster, more aggressively, and for longer periods of time. They may find themselves falling asleep at the wheel or acting uncharacteristically aggressive toward others on the road. In addition, drivers are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol after holiday festivities.

Driving While Intoxicated

Alcohol-impaired driving is the cause of approximately 30% of all fatal traffic accidents. According to the NHTSA, alcohol and other drugs can affect the driver’s judgment, vision, color distinction, and reaction time. To prevent such accidents, drivers are not permitted to operate a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .08.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Recover Compensation

When you lose someone you love because of another person’s careless or wrongful actions, most states allow you to pursue compensation for your losses. Wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions are designed to allow the surviving family members to recover financial compensation after their loss.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit is an action brought by the surviving family or dependents of the deceased person. In most cases, immediate family members such as the spouse, children, or parents of the decedent can pursue damages through a wrongful death claim, including:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Hospital bills
  • Lost income
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of love and advice
  • Pain and Suffering 
  • Emotional distress

Survival Action

People Die From Car Accidents Every Year in the US

Similar to a wrongful death claim, a survival action allows the personal representative of the decedent to pursue compensation for losses their loved one could’ve pursued in a personal injury claim if they had survived.

Since the suit is brought on behalf of the deceased, any settlement or verdict is awarded to the estate and disbursed following their will or court order. Each state has different requirements regarding who can be a personal representative. If you lost a loved one because of someone’s preventable actions, you deserve compensation and justice. A Las Vegas car accident lawyer can discuss your options and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys to Schedule a Free Consultation

Personal injury lawsuits, survival actions, and wrongful death claims can be very complicated. It is therefore in your best interests to work with a knowledgeable Las Vegas personal injury attorney in your area. The compassionate car accident lawyers at De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand your legal rights and remedies after a fatal car accident. Contact our office today to schedule your no-obligation case evaluation.