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Car accident statistics

How many people die in car accidents in the US?

The pandemic saw the number of Americans on the road drop considerably in 2020, with the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the US decreasing by 13.7%, falling from 3.28 trillion miles in 2019 to 2.83 trillion miles in 2020.

Despite this fall in the number of people on the road, fatalities on American roads actually increased 7.6%, from 39,107 in 2019 to 42,060 in 2020. Not only did the overall number of fatalities on US roads increase, the number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased by 24.6%, from 1.19 in 2019 to 1.49 in 2020. But which state had the most fatalities on its roads in 2020 and which state saw the largest increase year-on-year?

Top five states with the highest road fatality rates

While the number of fatalities on America’s road went up across the board in 2020, Southern states were particularly affected with seven of the top 10 deadliest states on a per 100 million VMT basis being located in the South and all of the top five.

1. Mississippi

Mississippi tops the list, with a motor vehicle fatality rate of 2.02 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2020, an increase of 34.7% from 1.5 in 2019.

As far as the raw numbers are concerned, Mississippi experienced an estimated 736 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020, a 19.5% increase from 616 in 2019. These 736 road fatalities are 20th on the list for the most road fatalities by sheer number across the country.

2. South Carolina

South Carolina ranks second on the list with 1.99 fatalities per 100 million VMT, jumping 16.8% from 1.7 in 2019.

South Carolina had an estimated 1,025 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (11th most in the country), a 4.1% increase from 985 in 2019.

3. Arkansas

Arkansas rounds out the top three, with 1.86 fatalities per 100 million VMT, a 36.3% increase from 1.36 in 2019. There were an estimated 638 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (21st highest), a 26.1% increase from 506 in 2019.

4. Louisiana

Louisiana is fourth on the list with 1.83 fatalities per 100 million VMT, an increase of 30.1% from 1.41 in 2019. Louisiana had an estimated 805 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (18th most), climbing 11.5% from 722 in 2019.

5. Florida

Closing out the top five states with the highest fatality rates is Florida, with 1.78 fatalities per 100 million VMT, a 20.4% increase from 1.48 in 2019. It’s estimated there were 3,511 motor vehicle fatalities in Florida in 2020 (the 3rd highest in the nation), an increase of 4.7% from 3,352 in 2019.

Top five states with the lowest road fatality rates

While the South makes up the top five states with the highest fatality rates, it’s the Northeast that dominates the states with the lowest vehicle fatality rates, making up four of the five.

1. Massachusetts

Coming in as the state with the lowest motor vehicle fatality rate per 100 million VMT in 2020 is Massachusetts, with .63 fatalities per 100 million VMT, an increase of 21.2% from .52 in 2019. Massachusetts had an estimated 342 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (32nd most in the US), up 1.5% from 337 in 2019.

2. Minnesota

In the number two spot is Minnesota, with .77 fatalities per 100 million VMT, rising 28.2% from .6 in 2019. Minnesota had an estimated 395 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (30th overall), an 8.5% increase from 364 in 2019.

3. New Hampshire

New Hampshire ranks as the state with the third lowest motor vehicle fatality rate, with .92 fatalities per 100 million VMT, a 24.4% increase from .74 in 2019. New Hampshire had an estimated 108 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (45th in the country), an increase of 5.9% from 102 in 2019.

4. New York

New York comes in as the state with the fourth lowest motor vehicle fatality rate per 100 million VMT in 2020, with .92 fatalities per 100 million VMT, a 31.1% increase from .7 in 2019. With an estimated 963 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (14th most in the country), New York saw its fatality rate increase 10.3% from the 873 in 2019.

5. New Jersey

Rounding out the top five states with the lowest fatality rates is New Jersey, with .94 fatalities per 100 million VMT, a 29.7% increase from .72 in 2019. New Jersey had an estimated 587 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 (25th overall), increasing 4.1% from 564 in 2019.

States with the highest motor vehicle fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled

Rank by fatalities per 100 million VMTStateMotor vehicle fatalities in 2020% change in number of motor vehicle fatalities from 2019 to 2020Vehicle Miles Traveled in 2020 (millions)% change in vehicle miles traveled from 2019 to 2020Fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2020% change in fatalities per 100 million VMT from 2019 to 2020
United States42,0607.6%2,828,948-13.70%1.4924.60%
2South Carolina1,0254.1%51,602-10.90%1.9916.80%
10New Mexico390-4.20%24,281-12.60%1.619.60%
11West Virginia2631.50%16,431-13.90%1.617.90%
14North Carolina1,66412.10%108,659-11.30%1.5326.40%
15South Dakota13633.30%8,902-10.30%1.5348.60%
37District of Columbia3633.30%3,164-15.80%1.1458.30%
38North Dakota97-1.00%8,622-12.30%1.1312.80%
40Rhode Island7325.90%6,547-13.60%1.1245.70%
47New Jersey5874.10%62,767-19.70%0.9429.70%
48New York96310.30%104,287-15.90%0.9231.10%
49New Hampshire1085.90%11,765-14.90%0.9224.40%

Car insurance after an accident

If you’ve suffered a car accident, your next step with car insurance is to file a claim. Understanding the car insurance claims process can help you make sure your claim gets paid and your car gets repaired as quickly as possible.

After filing a car insurance claim for an accident, you may be labeled high-risk by car insurers, which may mean higher monthly premiums. But even if you’re viewed as a major risk, you have options to reduce your car insurance rates by shopping around with insurers who cater to high-risk drivers.

Bottom line

With fatal car accidents on the rise, which state you live can play a part in your likelihood of getting into a car accident. But you can reduce your risks by driving defensively, following speed limits and paying attention to the roads. And you can reduce the cost of non fatal accidents by opting for a comprehensive car insurance policy.


Preliminary motor vehicle annual fatality data was sourced from the National Safety Council (NSC), which collects preliminary motor-vehicle fatality estimates. This data was then combined with preliminary monthly traffic volume estimates for 2020 and the annual Highway Statistics reports for 2019 that include annual VMT by state from the Federal Highway Administration.

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