The number of fatal car accidents varies from state-to-state and has a lot to do with population size. Here are the facts and figures behind the annual number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in all 50 U.S. states.
Updated August 6, 2021|2 min read
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The number of car accident deaths varies greatly across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are a number of factors that can affect the statistics when comparing motor vehicle fatalities on a state by state basis, including weather, types of vehicles involved, number of passengers, travel speeds, topography, and more.
It’s also important to factor in a state’s population when examining the number of car accident fatalities in each state. Using data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, we compared the number of motor vehicle fatalities in every state, taking into account each state’s total population.
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Car accidents can happen everywhere, no matter what state you live in. In 2019, there were 33,244 fatal car accidents across the United States. The table below is a state-by-state breakdown of fatal motor vehicle crashes and motor vehicle crash deaths per all 50 states and Washington D.C. as of 2019, according to the IIHS. 
|State||State population||Fatal crashes||Deaths|
|District of Columbia||705,749||22||23|
In 2019, the number of motor vehicle fatalities varied widely across all 50 states. California had the highest number of fatal crashes, 3,316, and Washington D.C. had the lowest, 22.
Population size is an important factor — California’s population is nearly 56 times that of Washington D.C., and Californians may be driving longer distances more frequently than D.C. drivers.
Insurance companies know that more people on the road can lead to more car accidents, which is part of the reason why drivers who live in big cities or dense areas often pay more for car insurance than drivers who live in less population-dense locales.
29% - Percentage of motor vehicle fatalities involving an SUV or pickup in Wisconsin in 2019
36,096 - Total number of fatalities from car accidents in all 50 states in 2019
53% - Percentage of deaths in single vehicle crashes nationwide in 2019
91% - Percentage of seat belt use by front seat occupants nationwide in 2019
$15,785 - The average cost per bodily injury claim in 2018
13% - Percentage of all U.S. drivers who were uninsured in 2019, that’s one in eight drivers
45% - Percentage of motor vehicle deaths that occurred in rural areas nationwide in 2019
82% - Percentage of motor vehicle deaths in South Dakota that took place on rural roads in 2019
In 2019, the following states reported the highest numbers of fatal car accidents in the U.S.:
California - 3,606 deaths out of 3,316 accidents
Texas - 3,615 deaths out of 3,294 accidents
Florida - 3,183 deaths out of 2,950 accidents
Georgia - 1,491 deaths out of 1,377 accidents
North Carolina - 1,373 deaths out of 1,284 accidents
The states with the lowest number of fatal car accidents are also some of the least populated, and are:
Washington, D.C. - 23 deaths out of 22 accidents
Vermont - 47 deaths out of 44 accidents
Rhode Island - 57 deaths out of 53 accidents
Alaska - 67 deaths out of 62 accidents
North Dakota - 100 deaths out of 91 accidents
Most accidents tend to happen because of distracted driving and speeding, with young drivers being the most affected by both, according to experts. Alcohol and drug impairment tend to be the main contributors of speeding, but slick roads and extreme weather can also cause drivers to drive faster than the speed limit.
A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that out of 1,644 patients involved in car accidents, 1,267 of them were injured within 10 miles of their home. And more people on the road also means more accidents, so it makes sense that California had the most fatal car accidents out of any state in 2019 with 3,316.
According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the make and model that had the highest rate of death in single-vehicle rollover crashes in 2017 was the Ford Fiesta, with 141 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years. The Hyundai Accent, another subcompact car, had the next highest death rate at 116 per million registered vehicle years.
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