How Many People Die In Car Accidents Every Year – Car accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States, with tens of thousands of deaths occurring nationwide each year.
Although many of us get into our cars every day without thinking about the risks, they can be a dangerous form of transportation. Learn more about car accident statistics in California and nationwide.
How Many People Die In Car Accidents Every Year
Car accidents in California are common and deadly. Here are some of the more shocking statistics, according to various government reporting agencies.
The Reality Behind The Statistics Of Road Accidents
According to the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS) in 2019 (the year the most recent report was released):
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available):
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available):
Car Crash Statistics For Nevada
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available):
Human factors include behavior (such as driving at an unsafe speed) as well as distraction, anger and other emotions.
It is not always possible to avoid a car accident; in fact, the average person is involved in 3-4 car accidents in their lifetime. However, you can take steps to protect yourself and others on the road.
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Learn to check the weather and road conditions before you drive so you know what hazards to be aware of. Plan to leave early enough to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination without breaking the speed limit. Plan to drive at the best time of day, such as when there is good light and visibility, but not too much traffic.
These are just a few of the ways that planning ahead can make you a safer driver and help you avoid accidents.
Drivers must constantly check their surroundings for potential hazards, and that doesn’t just mean the road ahead. While driving, your eyes must constantly move from the road in front to the side of the car, the rear view mirror and back. This allows you to see the threat no matter where it comes from.
Common Causes Of Distracted Driving
Being emotional does not make you a better leader. In fact, being angry or upset behind the wheel can distract you, reduce your risk awareness and lower your inhibitions. If you feel strong emotions, try to postpone driving until you feel better.
The same applies when you are already behind the wheel. Try not to let the actions of other drivers affect your emotions as this can lead to anger and accidents.
Distracted driving is a great danger to you and other drivers on the road. Distractions can include anything that takes your attention from the road and your surroundings, your hands from the wheel, or your mind from the task at hand: driving. Avoid distractions while behind the wheel by putting your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, choosing your music and setting your GPS before you go, and focusing on driving safely.
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All of the above tips are techniques that are commonly used in defensive driving. You can learn about these and other defensive driving techniques by taking a course.
In California, the Mature Driver Improvement Program is available online in a fast, convenient and affordable format. This course is designed to help mature drivers refresh their knowledge of the California Vehicle Code and general driving skills. Drivers over 65 will receive an automatic discount on their car insurance rates for completing the course – younger drivers may be eligible for discounts at the discretion of their insurer. We have a demand, journalism is free so everyone can understand our world. Reader support helps us do this. Will you give today? ×
Rescue workers work around the derailed cars of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 13, 2015. Jewel Samad/AFP
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When a fatal train crash or plane crash is reported, people are always quick to point out that driving is actually a much, much more dangerous form of travel.
Statistically, this is true. But why do train crashes and plane crashes seem so much more frightening – so much more disturbing? Why is the risk of dying on a train or plane much higher in our imaginations, even though the odds are technically lower?
A particular train or plane accident probably affects more people, so it seems like a bigger deal. An Amtrak passenger train bound for New York derailed near Philadelphia on Tuesday, killing six people and injuring 150. That’s a lot of people. Not surprisingly, it made headlines.
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But the difference is probably not just about raw numbers. Five days before the Amtrak crash near Knoxville, Tennessee, an SUV collided with a minivan. As a result, six people died, including an infant and two children. It was also horrific, but didn’t make national news.
Or maybe it’s that train crashes and plane crashes get more attention precisely because they’re so rare. We see car accidents and wrecks all the time, so it’s easier to become one with them. A large train wreck is a more unusual and disturbing sight. The trains seem so big, stable and safe. It’s an insane feeling to see things go horribly wrong.
But an even more important factor is the feeling of control. Cars and car accidents seem to be something we have control over. It’s easy to think, “As long as I drive safely, I can avoid an accident.” Objectively, this is false. People die in car accidents all the time for reasons beyond their control. But it seems that this can be avoided. And we are good at overestimating our abilities.
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On the other hand, train accidents and plane accidents are completely out of our reach. You are sitting in a large, fast-moving piece of metal, and you have no control over whether it reaches its destination safely. If something goes wrong, you as a passenger are completely helpless.
When I asked this question on Twitter, many pointed to lack of control as a major factor.
@bradplumer Are you forced to reflect on the lack of control when a passenger? — Peter Forbes (@PeterSForbes) May 13, 2015
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@bradplumer And the trains feel solid. We can imagine car accidents because we drive and make mistakes. The train has a scale that seems “safe”. — Charles Fishman (@cfishman) May 13, 2015
@bradplume you imagine yourself. Machine: Most people think, “I’m a good driver. That wouldn’t happen to me.” Train/Airplane: No control, so scarier — Alex Rinkus (@alexrinkus) May 13, 2015
@bradplumer Psychology. Trains are huge, terrifying machines that run through communities. Crash/loss of control nightmare. — John McQuaid (@johnmcquaid) May 13, 2015
Self Driving Car Accident Statistics
As it turns out, quite a bit of research supports this. In a review article from 1987
, psychologist Paul Slowich first pointed out that people are more intolerant of risks that they perceive to be beyond their control (along with risks that could have catastrophic consequences). Sufficient further research has confirmed this.
This helps explain why, for example, many people chose to drive rather than fly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even though it was objectively more risky. We are less afraid to do something that is within our control than not.
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– Here is an in-depth review of risk perception research with a wide range of insights. For example, research has found that we are less concerned about disasters that we perceive as “natural” compared to those that we perceive as man-made.
– Here is Sarah Gorman’s in-depth review of Slovic’s classic 1987 paper on risk. David Ropeik has also worked extensively with risk perception. Here’s a good previous article on why we think flying is riskier than traveling by car.
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