Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Roadway Safety Problem

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 2020, an estimated 38,680 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, of which an estimated 6,236 were people walking. In the first six months of 2021, an estimated 20,160 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, up an alarming 18.4% over 2020. That is the largest number of projected fatalities for January to June since 2006.2 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.

Line and bar charts illustrating the trend of fatalities and fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel between 1975 and 2020. Fatalities exceeded 50,000 per year in the late 1970s, but dropped consistently until about 2010, remaining steady between 32,000 and 34,000 until 2015. Total fatalities have exceeded 36,000 since 2016. Similarly, the fatality rate declined from more than 3 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel to a low of 1.08 in 2014. In 2020, however, the fatality rate jumped to 1.37, up from 1.11 in 2019.

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System


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.


38,680 people died on America’s roads in 20203

Compared to 2019, fatalities increased:

  • 7.2% overall
  • 23% per mile driven
  • 23% among Black people
  • 20% involving persons ejected from a vehicle
  • 18% among ages 25-34
  • 15% among passenger vehicle occupants not wearing seatbelts
  • 15% among ages 16-24
  • 14% among ages 35-44
  • 11% in speeding-related crashes
  • 9% in crashes with police-reported alcohol involvement
  • 9% among motorcyclists

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System


1NHTSA: Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by Sub-Categories in 2020
2NHTSA: Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January–June) of 2021
3NHTSA: Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by Sub-Categories in 2020

Last updated: Thursday, January 27, 2022