Motor Vehicle Deaths

The recent news that Paul Walker, the star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series, was killed in a car crash has generated  interest from the public into data on motor vehicle fatalities.

Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the main source of information about traffic accidents and fatalities in the U.S., the National Center for Health Statistics also tracks this leading cause of death as a standard part of its mortality data collection activities.

Motor vehicle-related deaths remain a significant cause of preventable death, accounting for about 34,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2011 for all age groups.  It also accounted for nearly one out of five of injury deaths.   The age-adjusted death rate for these injuries has recently begun to decrease — 3.6% from 11.1 per 100,000 population in 2009 to 10.7 in 2010.

Motor vehicle-related death rates are higher for males and females aged 15-24 than for most other age groups.  For males and females aged 15-19, motor vehicle-related deaths declined 47% from 2000 to 2010.  Motor vehicle-related deaths rates declined 31% for males aged 20-24 and 26% for females in the same age group during this 10-year period.

According to our National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, motor vehicle-related accidents resulted in over 3 percent of emergency department visits.

In terms of years of life lost, motor vehicle crashes rank third, behind only cancer and heart disease and account for approximately $99 billion in medical and lost work costs annually.

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