Car Death Statistics

Also see: Car Crash Report and Car Injury Report

Since 1996, American car owners have reported 1,881 car deaths to the U.S. Department of Transportation for vehicles built by the 31 automakers that we track. The car deaths that we study in this article are results of car problems. Table 1 shows the most common car problems that caused the deaths since year 1996. Table 2 shows the number of car deaths reported each year due to these car problems. Table 3 shows the number of car deaths by production year.

Common causes of car deaths

Table 1 shows the most common car problems that caused car deaths. The number one cause of car deaths is failure of the air bags. The next two leading causes of car deaths are vehicle speed control and steering, respectively.

Table 1. Common causes of car deaths

Car Problem Category Number of Car Deaths
  Air Bags
515
  Vehicle Speed Control
191
  Steering
138
  Seat Belts
120
  Tires
115
  Hydraulic Service Brakes
115
  Electrical System
98
  Power Train
83
  Engine And Engine Cooling
82
  Structure
80
  Equipment
78
  Suspension
53
  Seats
36
  Gasoline Fuel System
34
  Unknown Or Other
29
  Electronic Stability Control
23
  Wheels
18
  Visibility
18
  Other Fuel System
16
  Latches/locks/linkages
12
  Exterior Lighting
8
  Air Service Brakes
7
  Parking Brake
6
  Child Seat
4
  Diesel Fuel System
1
  Traction Control System
1

Total number of car deaths by year

Table 2 shows the number of deaths reported each year since 1996. 2003 had the most deaths reported (130 deaths) and 1996 had the least deaths with 7 deaths reported.

Table 2. Total Number of deaths reported each year since 1996

Calendar Year Number of car Deaths
  1996
7
  1997
22
  1998
32
  1999
88
  2000
93
  2001
88
  2002
70
  2003
130
  2004
97
  2005
103
  2006
100
  2007
63
  2008
111
  2009
115
  2010
87
  2011
52
  2012
68
  2013
86
  2014
120
  2015
96
  2016
90
  2017
81
  2018
6

Total number of car deaths by model year

Table 3 shows the number of deaths reported for vehicles manufactured from year 1996 to 2018. Cars made in 2001 had the most deaths with 163 deaths reported and cars produced in 2016 (current year is excluded) had the least deaths with 7 deaths reported.

Table 3. Total Number of deaths reported for vehicles built since 1996

Production Year Number of Deaths
1996 vehicles
131
1997 vehicles
129
1998 vehicles
117
1999 vehicles
120
2000 vehicles
135
2001 vehicles
163
2002 vehicles
143
2003 vehicles
118
2004 vehicles
119
2005 vehicles
100
2006 vehicles
131
2007 vehicles
94
2008 vehicles
100
2009 vehicles
44
2010 vehicles
28
2011 vehicles
34
2012 vehicles
48
2013 vehicles
33
2014 vehicles
34
2015 vehicles
33
2016 vehicles
7
2017 vehicles
3

Also see: Car Crash Report and Car Injury Report