Fatality Facts 2019Older people

Overview

In 2018, motor vehicle crashes accounted for less than 1 percent of fatalities among people 70 and older. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2021. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2018 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 March 2021.

Population and mileage rates

In 2019, motor vehicle crash death rates per capita increased substantially among males and females beginning at ages 75-79. Males had substantially higher death rates than females for ages 16 and older.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and sex, 2019

Motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people by age and sex, 2019
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeaths*Rate
<16 33,079,950 663 2.0 31,666,355 560 1.8 64,746,305 1,224 1.9
16-19 8,615,887 1,350 15.7 8,263,224 644 7.8 16,879,111 1,995 11.8
20-24 11,064,752 2,636 23.8 10,568,188 985 9.3 21,632,940 3,628 16.8
25-29 12,004,570 2,649 22.1 11,504,446 952 8.3 23,509,016 3,606 15.3
30-34 11,354,610 2,160 19.0 11,076,695 779 7.0 22,431,305 2,942 13.1
35-39 10,884,941 2,060 18.9 10,852,580 703 6.5 21,737,521 2,765 12.7
40-44 9,907,139 1,737 17.5 10,014,484 613 6.1 19,921,623 2,352 11.8
45-49 10,085,355 1,732 17.2 10,312,396 663 6.4 20,397,751 2,396 11.7
50-54 10,086,611 1,887 18.7 10,390,540 673 6.5 20,477,151 2,562 12.5
55-59 10,642,489 2,183 20.5 11,234,902 686 6.1 21,877,391 2,870 13.1
60-64 9,856,730 1,864 18.9 10,714,416 610 5.7 20,571,146 2,477 12.0
65-69 8,199,773 1,423 17.4 9,255,228 595 6.4 17,455,001 2,019 11.6
70-74 6,499,806 1,113 17.1 7,528,626 525 7.0 14,028,432 1,639 11.7
75-79 4,318,499 861 19.9 5,334,166 521 9.8 9,652,665 1,384 14.3
80-84 2,679,724 653 24.4 3,637,483 430 11.8 6,317,207 1,085 17.2
≥85 2,376,488 620 26.1 4,228,470 467 11.0 6,604,958 1,087 16.5

In 2016-17, the rate of passenger vehicle driver fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled began to increase 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 2019, the proportion in multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections increased steadily starting at ages 65-69. Multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections accounted for 40 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, 2019
AgeMultiple-vehicle intersection crashesOther multiple-vehicle crashes Single-vehicle intersection crashes Other single-vehicle crashes All crashes*
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
16-19 625 23 1,006 37 131 5 952 35 2,714 100
20-24 907 19 1,955 41 276 6 1,675 35 4,813 100
25-29 938 20 1,902 41 239 5 1,537 33 4,616 100
30-34 761 20 1,666 43 198 5 1,258 32 3,883 100
35-39 664 19 1,454 42 185 5 1,138 33 3,441 100
40-44 638 21 1,311 43 142 5 931 31 3,022 100
45-49 558 20 1,239 44 159 6 839 30 2,795 100
50-54 535 20 1,175 45 133 5 793 30 2,636 100
55-59 611 22 1,175 43 148 5 813 30 2,747 100
60-64 524 22 1,024 43 141 6 686 29 2,375 100
65-69 495 25 800 40 103 5 610 30 2,008 100
70-74 416 26 627 40 92 6 446 28 1,581 100
75-79 441 34 470 36 67 5 333 25 1,311 100
80-84 345 37 334 36 43 5 212 23 934 100
≥85 333 44 250 33 39 5 143 19 765 100

Pedestrians

Among adults 70 and older, the rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population in 2019 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 sex, 2019
AgeMaleFemaleTotal
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeaths*Rate
<13 26,691,603 83 0.3 25,539,563 55 0.2 52,231,166 138 0.3
13-15 6,388,347 43 0.7 6,126,792 25 0.4 12,515,139 68 0.5
16-19 8,615,887 104 1.2 8,263,224 49 0.6 16,879,111 153 0.9
20-24 11,064,752 261 2.4 10,568,188 108 1.0 21,632,940 369 1.7
25-29 12,004,570 374 3.1 11,504,446 129 1.1 23,509,016 503 2.1
30-34 11,354,610 348 3.1 11,076,695 155 1.4 22,431,305 503 2.2
35-39 10,884,941 359 3.3 10,852,580 152 1.4 21,737,521 511 2.4
40-44 9,907,139 311 3.1 10,014,484 124 1.2 19,921,623 435 2.2
45-49 10,085,355 297 2.9 10,312,396 162 1.6 20,397,751 459 2.3
50-54 10,086,611 377 3.7 10,390,540 155 1.5 20,477,151 533 2.6
55-59 10,642,489 490 4.6 11,234,902 168 1.5 21,877,391 659 3.0
60-64 9,856,730 410 4.2 10,714,416 139 1.3 20,571,146 550 2.7
65-69 8,199,773 297 3.6 9,255,228 115 1.2 17,455,001 412 2.4
70-74 6,499,806 217 3.3 7,528,626 86 1.1 14,028,432 304 2.2
75-79 4,318,499 151 3.5 5,334,166 87 1.6 9,652,665 238 2.5
80-84 2,679,724 98 3.7 3,637,483 73 2.0 6,317,207 172 2.7
≥85 2,376,488 102 4.3 4,228,470 62 1.5 6,604,958 164 2.5

Alcohol

Eight percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers 70 years and older in 2019 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent, compared with 18 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, 2019
AgeDrivers killedEstimated drivers killed with BACs ≥ 0.08
NumberNumber%
16-59 years 11,898 4,174 35
60-69 years 2,029 375 18
≥70 years 2,820 214 8