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The Roadway Safety Problem

Our Nation's Roadway Safety Crisis

Explore interactive data visualizations to learn about the significant impact of motor vehicle deaths in our communities and where progress is being made in eliminating roadway deaths.

Map of the Unites States showing the Concentration of Roadway Fatalities by County.

Almost 95% of people who die using our Nation’s transportation networks are killed on our streets, roads, and highways, and this threat to our safety is getting worse. Read the National Roadway Safety Strategy to learn about what U.S. DOT is doing to address this crisis.

More than 370,000 people died in transportation incidents over the last decade (2011-2020) in the United States. More than 350,000 of them died on our roads.

Pie chart depicting the proportion of roadway fatalities that occurred in each mode of transportation between 2011 and 2020:Roadway: 354,272 (94.2 percent) Railroad: 7,566 (2.0 percent) Water: 7,379 (2.0 percent) Air: 4,177 (1.1 percent) Transit: 2,574 (0.7 percent) Pipeline: 120 (0.03 percent)

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

In 2021, 42,939 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, of which 7,388 were people walking. Millions more are injured – sometimes permanently – each year. 

Roadway fatalities and the fatality rate declined consistently for 30 years, but progress has stalled over the last decade and went in the wrong direction in 2020 and 2021.

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System

Graphic showing the recent uptick in fatalities per miles traveled from 1975 to 2020.

Graphic showing the uptick in fatalities per miles traveled from 2011 to 2021.

Traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for teenagers in America, and disproportionately impact people who are Black and American Indian. The rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has not substantially improved over the last 10 years, and increased significantly in 2020 before remaining stable in 2021.

Graphic of a full Major League baseball stadium. Text overlay reads: Imagine a world where no one dies on our roadways. In 2021, 42,939 people lost their lives on roadways across the nation. That number of people could fill the average professional baseball stadium. To learn more about the Safe System Approach, visit Note: Figure is an estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2021 (Source: NHTSA).42,939 people died on America’s roads in 20211

Compared to 2020, fatalities increased:

  • 10.1% overall. 42,939 lives were lost, the highest total number recorded since 2005
  • 14% on urban roads
  • 14% among drivers ages 65 and older
  • 12.5% among people walking, totaling 7,388 lives lost, the highest recorded in decades
  • 17% among fatal crashes involving at least one large truck
  • 8% among motorcyclists, totaling 5,932 lives lost, the highest total ever recorded

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System

1 NHTSA: Overview of Motor Vehicle Crash Traffic Crashes in 2021