Fatality Facts 2018Older people

Overview

In 2017, motor vehicle crashes accounted for less than 1 percent of fatalities among people 70 and older. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2019. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2017 Unintentional Fatal Injury Data for 10 Leading Causes of Deaths, Ages 70 - 85+, All Races, Both Sexes. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcause.html.People ages 70 and older are less likely to be licensed to drive compared with younger people, and drivers 70 and older also drive fewer miles. However, older drivers are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past.

Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older. The increased fatal crash risk among older drivers is largely due to their increased susceptibility to injury, particularly chest injuries, and medical complications, rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes. Cicchino, J.B. 2015. Why have fatality rates among older drivers declined? The relative contributions of changes in survivability and crash involvement. Accident Analysis and Prevention 83:67-73.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Posted December 2019.

Population and mileage rates

In 2018, motor vehicle crash death rates per capita increased among males and females beginning at ages 70-74. Males had substantially higher death rates than females for ages 16 and older.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2018

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2018
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeaths*Rate
<16 33,218,658 652 2.0 31,808,004 544 1.7 65,026,662 1,196 1.8
16-19 8,663,282 1,371 15.8 8,292,721 788 9.5 16,956,003 2,160 12.7
20-24 11,201,547 2,902 25.9 10,672,032 1,024 9.6 21,873,579 3,927 18.0
25-29 12,018,838 2,741 22.8 11,542,918 943 8.2 23,561,756 3,688 15.7
30-34 11,191,871 2,275 20.3 10,944,147 769 7.0 22,136,018 3,045 13.8
35-39 10,790,190 1,958 18.1 10,773,397 732 6.8 21,563,587 2,690 12.5
40-44 9,797,410 1,686 17.2 9,916,891 613 6.2 19,714,301 2,299 11.7
45-49 10,263,995 1,867 18.2 10,483,140 680 6.5 20,747,135 2,548 12.3
50-54 10,277,207 1,946 18.9 10,607,357 641 6.0 20,884,564 2,588 12.4
55-59 10,669,327 2,121 19.9 11,271,658 767 6.8 21,940,985 2,889 13.2
60-64 9,729,536 1,802 18.5 10,602,115 688 6.5 20,331,651 2,491 12.3
65-69 8,034,813 1,351 16.8 9,052,080 583 6.4 17,086,893 1,934 11.3
70-74 6,211,272 1,048 16.9 7,194,151 531 7.4 13,405,423 1,579 11.8
75-79 4,144,674 819 19.8 5,122,392 485 9.5 9,267,066 1,304 14.1
80-84 2,590,366 605 23.4 3,536,942 397 11.2 6,127,308 1,002 16.4
≥85 2,325,693 624 26.8 4,218,810 464 11.0 6,544,503 1,088 16.6

In 2016-17, the rate of passenger vehicle driver fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled began to increase noticeably at ages 70-74. Drivers 85 and older had the highest rate of fatal crash involvement.Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2020. [Unpublished analysis of April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Household Travel Survey]. Arlington, VA.

Passenger vehicle fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled by driver age, April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2017

Passenger vehicle fatal crash rates per 100 million miles traveled, by driver age, April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2017
AgeCrash involvementsMilesRate
16-19 3,023 62,410,423,548 4.8
20-24 5,615 172,158,820,127 3.3
25-29 4,963 213,487,256,997 2.3
30-34 4,052 228,055,122,817 1.8
35-39 3,290 235,513,924,779 1.4
40-44 2,933 221,981,057,921 1.3
45-49 2,868 211,720,351,245 1.4
50-54 2,954 229,997,362,385 1.3
55-59 2,791 216,227,224,007 1.3
60-64 2,397 195,073,278,082 1.2
65-69 2,003 149,557,419,942 1.3
70-74 1,468 87,458,953,733 1.7
75-79 1,094 51,982,073,748 2.1
80-84 882 20,669,598,896 4.3
≥85 858 11,313,581,400 7.6
Total* 41,234 2,307,606,449,627 1.8

Crash types

Among passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018, the proportion in multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections increased steadily starting at ages 60-64. Multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections accounted for 39 percent of fatal crash involvements among drivers 80 and older, compared with 20 percent for drivers ages 16-59.

Passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes by age and crash type, 2018
AgeMultiple-vehicle intersection crashesOther multiple-vehicle crashes Single-vehicle intersection crashes Other single-vehicle crashes All crashes*
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
16-19 673 24 961 34 121 4 1,060 38 2,815 100
20-24 981 19 1,959 39 276 5 1,850 37 5,066 100
25-29 881 18 2,019 42 273 6 1,590 33 4,763 100
30-34 782 20 1,676 42 195 5 1,342 34 3,995 100
35-39 666 19 1,511 44 203 6 1,041 30 3,421 100
40-44 640 22 1,240 43 153 5 835 29 2,868 100
45-49 607 21 1,266 44 162 6 875 30 2,910 100
50-54 572 21 1,178 43 147 5 831 30 2,728 100
55-59 612 21 1,271 44 148 5 883 30 2,914 100
60-64 538 23 1,019 43 129 5 684 29 2,370 100
65-69 477 25 801 42 108 6 505 27 1,891 100
70-74 435 27 658 41 71 4 425 27 1,589 100
75-79 385 32 461 38 49 4 306 25 1,201 100
80-84 324 37 292 33 47 5 221 25 884 100
≥85 346 42 276 33 32 4 178 21 832 100

Pedestrians

The rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population in 2018 was highest for people ages 80-84. For all age groups the rate of pedestrian deaths per capita was higher for males than females.

Pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2018
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeaths*Rate
<13 26,859,496 93 0.3 25,701,990 64 0.2 52,561,486 157 0.3
13-15 6,359,162 25 0.4 6,106,014 18 0.3 12,465,176 43 0.3
16-19 8,663,282 135 1.6 8,292,721 73 0.9 16,956,003 208 1.2
20-24 11,201,547 318 2.8 10,672,032 113 1.1 21,873,579 431 2.0
25-29 12,018,838 346 2.9 11,542,918 135 1.2 23,561,756 482 2.0
30-34 11,191,871 346 3.1 10,944,147 139 1.3 22,136,018 485 2.2
35-39 10,790,190 345 3.2 10,773,397 156 1.4 21,563,587 501 2.3
40-44 9,797,410 295 3.0 9,916,891 128 1.3 19,714,301 423 2.1
45-49 10,263,995 346 3.4 10,483,140 138 1.3 20,747,135 485 2.3
50-54 10,277,207 412 4.0 10,607,357 140 1.3 20,884,564 553 2.6
55-59 10,669,327 431 4.0 11,271,658 177 1.6 21,940,985 608 2.8
60-64 9,729,536 405 4.2 10,602,115 153 1.4 20,331,651 558 2.7
65-69 8,034,813 265 3.3 9,052,080 120 1.3 17,086,893 385 2.3
70-74 6,211,272 194 3.1 7,194,151 97 1.3 13,405,423 291 2.2
75-79 4,144,674 154 3.7 5,122,392 84 1.6 9,267,066 238 2.6
80-84 2,590,366 104 4.0 3,536,942 76 2.1 6,127,308 180 2.9
≥85 2,325,693 109 4.7 4,218,810 72 1.7 6,544,503 181 2.8

Alcohol

Nine percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers 70 years and older in 2018 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent, compared with 19 percent for drivers ages 60-69 and 35 percent for drivers ages 16-59.

Fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BAC ≥ 0.08 percent by age, 2018
AgeDrivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BACs ≥ 0.08
NumberNumber%
16-59 years 12,373 4,317 35
60-69 years 2,014 389 19
≥70 years 2,742 234 9