What State Has the Highest Car Accident Fatality Rate?

Published on May 14, 2024 at 3:27 pm in Car Accidents.

Having your driver’s license is a privilege many Americans enjoy, and while most drivers are safe out on the road, not everyone is. Accidents happen every day in every state, causing damage and injuries and often the deaths of those involved.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it’s estimated that nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, equating to 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people. That number is sobering to think about, and it brings up the question, “What state has the highest car accident fatality rate?”

Keep reading to find out.

Dangers of Driving in Mississippi

Mississippi is beautiful, with rolling hills and rivers; it can be described as picturesque to many.

But our state is also deadly. According to data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there were just over two million registered vehicles of all types in Mississippi, and those vehicles traveled approximately 40.8 million miles during 2021.

Having that many vehicles in a state with a 2.9 million population is bound to lead to serious car accidents. The IIHS data cited above also shows that, in 2021, Mississippi had the highest traffic fatality rate per 100,000 population at 26.2 and the second-highest deadly crash index per 100 million vehicle miles traveled at 1.89.

To put it in a little perspective, the state with the second highest traffic fatality rate per 100,000 population was South Carolina, with 23.1. Boasting a population of 5.2 million, South Carolina drivers exceeded 57.4 million miles traveled, yet the state still had fewer fatalities per population than Mississippi.

How Fatality Rates Differ from the Number of Fatal Crashes

When you look at the statistics from the IIHS mentioned previously, you might be wondering why Mississippi is so dangerous when there were only 697 fatal crashes leading to 772 deaths in 2021. This is easily explained when we define what a fatality rate is. The FHWA’s definition of Rate of Fatalities is the ratio of the total number of fatalities to the number of vehicle miles traveled. However, this index can account for how many total fatalities occur in light of the population of an area.

This is where it might get a little confusing, but looking at the data, Mississippi has a smaller population than most other states, and yet its fatality rate is high. A state like California, with a population of 39.1 million, had 3,983 fatal crashes in 2021 but had a death index of only 10.9.

As you can see, the number of crashes on its own doesn’t determine the fatality rate. This determination comes down to how many fatal crashes occur and comparing that number to the population of an area.

Why Is the Traffic Fatality Rate So High in Mississippi?

As with most states in the nation, some of the main causes of vehicle crashes in Mississippi are the usual driver inattention, reckless driving, driving while drowsy or under the influence, and poor weather conditions.

But here are some other causes that highlight why the crashes that do occur in Mississippi are fatal.

Seat belt use in our state is one of the lowest in the nation; only 77.9% of vehicle occupants wear their safety belts. Teenaged drivers and their passengers are among the most likely to not wear their seat belts, and it’s estimated that one out of every three deaths among teens is due to a vehicle crash.

Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) states that roughly 20% of all fatal traffic crashes were caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While this number may be lower than in other states, those drivers caused 155 unnecessary deaths in 2021.

While we may do our best to stay safe while behind the wheel, circumstances can occur that are out of our control, leading to disastrous outcomes.

If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal car accident due to the reckless actions of another driver, our team at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC is here to help. We have experience handling even the most devastating accidents, and we can assist your case with compassion and understanding.

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