Countries with the Most Car Accidents
Car accidents typically happen when you least expect them—hence the word “accident”. However, there are many factors that contribute to car accidents, making them sometimes more predictable than you’d think.
Approximately 1.19 million people lose their lives each year as a result of motor vehicle accidents.
This article explores global statistics surrounding car accidents, including the most common causes, as well as the countries with the highest and lowest rates of crashes. The numbers may surprise you!
Car Accident Stats
A few key facts about car accidents worldwide:
- Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years.
- More than half of all car accident fatalities are among vulnerable road users, including: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
- 92% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have around 60% of the world's vehicles.
- Motor vehicle accidents cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
- Males are typically 3 times more likely to lose their life in car accidents than females.
Top Causes: Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is responsible for approximately 2,800 deaths and over 400,000 injuries in a single year.
There are many types of distractions that can lead to dangerous driving, most commonly the use of mobile phones. According to the WHO, “Drivers using mobile phones are approximately 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers not using a mobile phone.”
Top Causes: Speeding
In the United States, speeding-related crashes accounted for around 9,378 deaths in one recent year.
Speeding is directly related to both the likelihood of a crash happening and to the severity of the consequences of the crash. For example, according to the WHO, “every 1% increase in mean speed produces a 4% increase in the fatal crash risk and a 3% increase in the serious crash risk.”
The risk of fatal injuries to pedestrians also significantly increases with the speed of the vehicle.
In car-to-car side impacts the fatality risk for car passengers is 85% at 65 km/h.
Top Causes: Impaired Driving
In the United States, impaired driving resulted in about 10,142 fatalities in a given year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “the risk of a road traffic crash starts at low levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and increases significantly when the driver's BAC is ≥ 0.04 g/dl.”
In terms of other substances, “the risk of a fatal crash occurring among those who have used amphetamines is about 5 times the risk of someone who hasn't.”
Top Causes: Weather
In the United States, weather-related accidents accounted for approximately 5,891 fatalities in one recent year.
According to the US Department of Transportation, on average, there are “over 5,891,000 vehicle crashes each year. Approximately 21% of these crashes - nearly 1,235,000 - are weather-related.”
As well, the vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall: 70% on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall.
Top Causes: Reckless Driving
Reckless driving statistics vary by region, but it is a widely known significant factor in many accidents each year.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving is a factor in 54% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes.
In fact, the AAA also states that 78% of drivers report committing at least one aggressive driving behavior in the past year, including tailgating, yelling, or honking to show annoyance to another driver.
The NHTSA backs these numbers up and claims that: “running late is one of the leading reasons given for aggressive driving, and the most frequently-cited excuse for following too quickly and passing on the right.”
Risk Factors: Non-use of Safety Support
Safety support includes things like motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child-restraints. While the misuse of these items may not cause a crash, they certainly increase the risk of injuries.
According to the WHO, properly wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of fatal injuries in a crash by “more than 6 times and the risk of brain injury by up to 74%.”
In regards to seatbelts, proper use of a seat-belt can reduce the risk of fatalities among vehicle occupants by up to 50%.
Proper child-restraints (car seats) are imperative to reduce the risk of catastrophic injuries to children. The use of child restraints can lead to a 71% reduction in fatalities among infants.
Risk Factors: Unsafe Vehicles
Vehicle maintenance plays a critical role in avoiding car accidents and reducing the chance of serious injuries.
Unsafe vehicles can cause unexpected stops or breakdowns on busy roads.
Vehicles without proper care could result in faulty airbags or seat-belts, resulting in further injuries in the event of an accident.
The United States of America
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the United States has the most car accidents in the world, given the country’s sheer size and population. It is also the second largest consumer of automobiles.
In 2018, the US had reported more than two million motor vehicle accidents. As a result of these accidents there were over three million injuries and 37,000 lives lost.
The United States has more than four times the number of car accidents of any other country in the world.
So, which country comes in second?
The country with the second most motor vehicle accidents is Japan. Japan has close to 500,000 car accidents per year. Japan has the third-most cars in the world, and it has the sixth-largest network of roads.
In 2018, Japan reported 600,000 motor vehicle related injuries and 4,700 lives lost.
According to the WHO, in addition to the US and Japan, here are 10 other countries with high car accident rates, along with the number of motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 population:
Libya: 73.4 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Dominican Republic: 41.7 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Thailand: 38.1 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Venezuela: 37.2 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Nigeria: 33.7 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
South Africa: 31.9 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Iraq: 31.5 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Russia: 18.6 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
Brazil: 19.7 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people.
While not every country makes the list, there are numerous of countries that experience high rates of car accidents each year, highlighting the fact that driving safety is a huge concern globally.
Note: Exact statistics vary by source.
Country With the Least Number of Accidents
According to the WHO, the top three countries said to have the least number of fatal car accidents are as follows:
Iceland: 2.05 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people
Norway: 2.12 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people
Switzerland: 2.25 motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people
Car accidents are common occurrences worldwide and happen due to various factors, including distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving, reckless behavior, and adverse weather conditions.
These accidents can lead to serious injuries, fatalities, and property damage, making road safety a crucial concern.
It is important to practice safe driving habits, and always be aware of what is going on around you.