In 2010, 32,885 people died in motor vehicle traf¬fic crashes in the United States—the lowest number of fatalities since 1949 (30,246 fatalities in 1949). This was a 2.9-percent decline in the number of people killed, from 33,883 in 2009, according to NHTSA’s 2010 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). In 2010, an estimated 2.24 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, compared to 2.22 million in 2009 according to NHTSA’s National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES). This slight increase (1.0% increase) in the estimated number of people injured is not statistically significant from the number of people injured in crashes in 2009.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which became operational in 1975, contains data on a census of fatal traffic crashes within the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway customarily open to the public, and must result in the death of an occupant of a vehicle or a nonoccupant within 30 days of the crash.
The 2011 FARS data file used for the statistics in this report was created in August 2012. The updated final counts for 2010 are reflected in this report. The updated final counts for 2011 will be reflected in the 2012 report.
Data in the General Estimates System (GES) are obtained from a nationally representative probability sample selected from all police-reported crashes. The system began operation in 1988. To be eligible for the GES sample, a police accident report (PAR) must be completed for the crash, and the crash must involve at least one motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway and must result in property damage, injury, or death.
The 2011 GES file used for the statistics in this report was completed in September 2012.
FARS and GES data can be obtained by downloading any of the published files from the Internet, at
The files are available in SAS, sequential ASCII, and (for FARS only, not GES) DBF file formats. FARS data can also be accessed on the Web at www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov. Requests for more information from FARS or GES or for a copy of the data files should be directed to:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Center for Statistics and Analysis, NVS-424
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4198 or 800-934-8517
Requests for more information may also be submitted online via NCSA’s Customer Automated Tracking System (CATS) at www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/CATS/index.aspx.
Statistics about police-reported motor vehicle crashes over time are tracked. Trends for fatal crashes and fatalities generally are presented from 1975 (when FARS began operation) to 2011; however, alcohol data from FARS show data only for the years these data are available—1982 to 2011. Trends for nonfatal crashes and injured are presented from 1988 (when GES began operation) to 2011. Care should be taken when comparing nonfatal crash and injury statistics from one year to the next. Since the statistics derived from GES data are estimates, year-to-year differences may be the result of the sampling process, not the result of an actual trend. The variability or sampling errors associated with the estimates must be considered when making any year-to-year comparisons using GES data. (For more information on sampling error, see Appendix C.)
Below are some of the statistics you will find in this chapter:
- Fatal crashes decreased by 1.8 percent from 2010 to 2011, and the fatality rate dropped to 1.10 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2011.
- The injury rate in 2011 was the same as the rate in 2010 and 2009, at 75 persons injured per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.
- The occupant fatality rate (including motorcyclists) per 100,000 population, which declined by 22.7 percent from 1975 to 1992, decreased by 32.7 percent from 1992 to 2011.
- The occupant injury rate (including motorcyclists) per 100,000 population, which declined by 13.6 percent from 1988 to 1992, decreased by 41.1 percent from 1992 to 2011.
- The nonoccupant fatality rate per 100,000 population has declined by 57.4 percent from 1975 to 2011.
- The nonoccupant injury rate per 100,000 population has declined by 49.4 percent from 1988 to 2011.
- The percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities has declined from 48 percent in 1982 to 31 percent in 2011.