What are the odds of dying in a car crash? This question has multiple answers. Your location, age, and driving record all affect your odds.

The statistics paint contradictory pictures, depending on how you interpret them. Only 0.20% of New York car crashes result in a fatality. Yet car crashes constitute the second-leading cause of death for people under 45.

Here is some information about the odds of dying in a car crash, along with some tips to increase your safety on the road.

Car Crash Fatalities

About 40,000 Americans die in car accidents every year. New York motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists account for about 900 of those fatalities in an average year.

Using data from the U.S. government, the odds of dying in a car crash nationwide is about 0.54%. This number comes from the 6.7 million car accidents in 2019 and the 36,100 accident fatalities that year. To put this number into context, this means that one person died for every 200 car crashes that occurred.

Living in New York gives you substantially better odds. In 2019, New York reported 447,000 crashes and 891 fatalities. In 2020, New York reported a dropoff in crashes due to the pandemic at 327,400, but an increase in total fatalities at 945. 

These numbers place the odds of dying in a car crash in New York at between 0.20% and 0.30%, representing about half of the national average.

A big reason for this difference comes from the high rate of seatbelt use by New York residents. Nearly 95% of New Yorkers wear their seatbelts.

Lifetime Odds of Dying in a Car Crash

These odds tell you the odds of dying if you get into a single car crash. But most people have multiple car crashes in their lifetimes. According to the insurance industry, most drivers get into four car accidents during their lifetimes.

The odds of dying over a lifetime with four crashes requires a deep dive into statistics. Suffice it to say that your odds of dying in the four crashes you will likely have during your life are 2.14% nationwide. In New York, your odds of dying over four crashes are between 0.80% and 1.19%.

Leading Causes of Death by Age

Another way to look at your odds of dying in a car accident is to compare it to the odds of dying from other causes. For people under the age of 45, motor vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of death. This places car accidents behind accidental poisoning, but ahead of suicide, cancer, and heart disease as a cause of death.

From about age 45, the odds shift. After this age, your odds of dying in a car crash are much lower than your odds of dying from other causes. At age 45, cancer takes over as the leading cause of death, killing seven times the number of people who died in car crashes.

By age 65, heart disease is the leading cause of death. At this age, heart disease kills 66 times as many people when compared to car crashes.

Controlling the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash

You cannot control whether you get into a car crash. Some car crashes happen because of someone else’s negligence or severe weather conditions.

But you can influence your odds of dying in a crash. seatbelt use makes a huge difference. seatbelt use in New York exceeds the national average. Because of this, the state’s death rate falls below the national average.

Driving safely also makes a difference. Most accidents result from correctable behaviors like speeding, tailgating, and distracted driving.

By driving defensively and wearing your seatbelt, you have the best chance to avoid a fatal car crash.