Vital Signs: Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention - United States and 19 Comparison Countries

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Jul 6;65(26):672-7. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6526e1.


Background: Each year >32,000 deaths and 2 million nonfatal injuries occur on U.S. roads.

Methods: CDC analyzed 2000 and 2013 data compiled by the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to determine the number and rate of motor vehicle crash deaths in the United States and 19 other high-income OECD countries and analyzed estimated seat belt use and the percentage of deaths that involved alcohol-impaired driving or speeding, by country.

Results: In 2013, the United States motor vehicle crash death rate of 10.3 per 100,000 population had decreased 31% from the rate in 2000; among the 19 comparison countries, the rate had declined an average of 56% during this time. Among all 20 countries, the United States had the highest rate of crash deaths per 100,000 population (10.3); the highest rate of crash deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles (1.24), and the fifth highest rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (1.10). Among countries for which information on national seat belt use was available, the United States ranked 18th out of 20 for front seat use, and 13th out of 18 for rear seat use. Among 19 countries, the United States reported the second highest percentage of motor vehicle crash deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving (31%), and among 15, had the eighth highest percentage of crash deaths that involved speeding (29%).

Conclusions and comments: Motor vehicle injuries are predictable and preventable. Lower death rates in other high-income countries, as well as a high prevalence of risk factors in the United States, suggest that the United States can make more progress in reducing crash deaths. With a projected increase in U.S. crash deaths in 2015, the time is right to reassess U.S. progress and set new goals. By implementing effective strategies, including those that increase seat belt use and reduce alcohol-impaired driving and speeding, the United States can prevent thousands of motor vehicle crash-related injuries and deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in direct medical costs every year.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Seat Belts / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*