The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) posted new data on motor vehicle crash fatalities from 2011. In 2011, a total of 32,367 people died in motor vehicle crashes, which is down 30% from 1975.
The majority of these fatalities occurred in passenger vehicle collisions, which represented 66% of fatalities, a total of 21,347 in 2011. This figure is 3% less than in 2010. Out of this total, 59% of those killed were driving cars, 21% were driving pickup trucks, and 18% were driving SUVs.
In terms of the types of collisions where the highest number of fatalities occurred, frontal impacts accounted for 41% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2011 and side impacts accounted for 25%. Rollover crashes made up 35% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths, of which 55% involved single-vehicle crashes and 13% involved multiple vehicles.
Inside the vehicle, 9% of occupant fatalities involved those sitting in the second or third rows, and out of that percentage, 26% was under the age of 13.
Out of the total number of passenger vehicle fatalities, 45% occurred in single-vehicle crashes and 55% occurred in collisions involving multiple vehicles. For vehicles other than cars, however, single-vehicle crashes accounted for 63% of SUV occupant deaths and 64% of pickup truck occupant deaths.
Men made up a disproportionate number of vehicle occupants killed in 2011, at 73%. People of both genders under the age of 25 made up 29% of fatalities.
Regarding large trucks (trucks not classified as passenger vehicles) rather than passenger vehicles, IIHS said 3,373 people died in collisions involving these vehicles in 2011. A total of 16% of these deaths involved truck occupants, 66% involved the occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 16% involved pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. The percentage of people who died who were involved in collisions with these vehicles was up 7% over 2009 (the lowest year of fatalities involving these vehicles on record since 1975), though the total number of deaths has dropped by 60% since the all-time high in 1979.
By truck type, 76% of deaths in large truck collisions in 2011 involved tractor-trailers and 25% involved single-unit trucks.
In collisions involving large trucks, 98% of occupants killed when a passenger vehicle and a large truck collide were in the passenger vehicle.
As for data related to when and where deaths involving large trucks occurred, in 2011, 59% occurred on major roads rather than on interstate highways and freeways, 31% did occur on interstates and highways, and 9% occurred on minor roads. Time-wise, 49% of deaths in collisions involving large trucks occurred between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is greater than the 31% of crash deaths in vehicles other than large trucks.
Also, 15% of large truck crash deaths in 2011 occurred on Saturday and Sunday, which is much less than the 31% of crash deaths during this time period for other types of vehicles.
Two other statistics stood out, according to IIHS. Only 43% of fatally injured truck drivers were wearing safety belts in 2011 (compared with 45% of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers). Safety belt use was unknown for 23% of fatally injured drivers of large trucks (compared with only 7% unknown for drivers of fatally injured passenger vehicles).
Also, drivers of large trucks killed in collisions typically have much lower blood alcohol levels than passenger vehicle drivers. Only 2% of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2011 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent, which is down 17% from 1982. By contrast, 33% of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers had BACs at or above 0.08 percent in 2011. This number is down 51% since 1982.