Passenger Vehicle Crash Statistics

By far the largest number of motor vehicle crash deaths are occupants of passenger vehicles including cars, minivans, pickups, SUVs, and cargo/large passenger vans. The likelihood of crash death varies markedly among these vehicle types according to size. Small/light vehicles have less structure and size to absorb crash energy, so crash forces on occupants will be higher. People in lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage in collisions with heavier vehicles. Pickups and SUVs are proportionally more likely than cars to be in fatal single-vehicle crashes, especially rollovers. However, pickups and SUVs generally are heavier than cars, so occupant deaths in SUVs and pickups are less likely to occur in multiple-vehicle crashes.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and The Polk Company’sNational Vehicle Population Profile.


Crash types

Frontal impacts accounted for 45 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2010. Side impacts accounted for another 24 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in single-vehicle crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2010
Point of principal impact Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All occupants
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Frontal 2,594 43 1,111 40 845 32 4,631 40
Side 1,228 20 399 14 353 14 1,999 17
Rear 154 3 37 1 29 1 220 2
Other (mostly rollover) 2,020 34 1,245 45 1,375 53 4,726 41
All* 5,996 100 2,792 100 2,602 100 11,576 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

 

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes by impact point and vehicle type, 2010
Point of principal impact Car occupants Pickup occupants SUV occupants All occupants
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Frontal 3,563 48 968 59 792 52 5,437 51
Side 2,498 34 370 23 345 23 3,251 30
Rear 451 6 64 4 97 6 622 6
Other (mostly rollover) 841 11 234 14 276 18 1,377 13
All* 7,353 100 1,636 100 1,510 100 10,687 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Forty-five percent of car occupant deaths in 2010 occurred in single-vehicle crashes and 55 percent occurred in multiple-vehicle crashes. In contrast, single-vehicle crashes accounted for 63 percent of SUV occupant deaths and 63 percent of pickup occupant deaths.

Car Accidents, Personal Injury

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