The number of fatal motor vehicle accidents has gone down from 39,836 accidents in 1990 to only 34,172 fatal accidents in 2009. The reasons for the decrease are believed to be better road conditions and improved signage. Single vehicle accidents also went down from 23,445 in 1990 to 18,745 in 2009. The incidence of accidents with two or more vehicles went from 16,391 in 1990 to 13,528 in 2009.
About 44,599 people died in the US in 1990 with only 24,474 people dying in a motor vehicle accident in 2009. The greatest reduction in deaths was for drivers who have airbags. More cars have airbags now than in 1990.
While there has been a significant decrease in deaths in occupants of passenger cars, motorcyclists saw an increase in fatalities as well as those riding some other kind of motorized unenclosed vehicle.
In 2009, 62 percent of fatal car crashes involved a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0 percent. Only 6 percent of the time did the driver have a blood alcohol level of between 0.01 and 0.07 percent. In 32 percent of cases, the driver in a fatal motor vehicle accident had a blood alcohol level of over 0.08. These numbers in 1990 reflected more drivers in the 0.08 level or above at the time of a fatal motor vehicle accident. Measurements were made of the blood alcohol level of passengers with similar results shown.
People have driven more in recent years when compared to years past and the number of miles traveled on an annual basis has gone up. The annual death rate due to motor vehicle accidents has drastically decreased since first being measured in 1925. Even so, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death from injury in people from youth to middle age. Motor vehicle accidents are the third leading cause of death in people who are younger than 65 years of age, after cancer and heart problems.
Statistics have revealed some regional factors involved in motor vehicle accidents. For example, the highest death rate due to motor vehicle accidents is in the southeastern part of the country as well as in a few of the western states. The greatest rates of fatalities are in the youngest and in the oldest drivers. The same is true of passengers. Passengers in a car that has a driver under the influence of alcohol have the highest rate of death and of the greatest chance of getting into an accident in the first place.
Certain medical conditions also do not bode well for car accidents. Adults with diabetes and drivers with epilepsy stand a greater chance of getting into a car accident and suffering major injury or death as a result.