The U.S. has the highest motor vehicle fatality rate of 20 high-income countries and has seen the smallest improvements in recent years, according to a CDC report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. While the crash death rate per 100,000 people dropped 31 percent in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013, it declined an average of 56 percent in the other countries.
The U.S. also has the highest death rate per 10,000 vehicles and the fifth highest death rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. If U.S. rates were equivalent to the average of the 19 comparison countries, at least half of the 32,000 Americans killed in crashes each year would still be alive.
“To maximize lives saved and injuries prevented in the U.S., increasing restraint use and reducing alcohol-impaired driving could have the most, as well as an immediate, impact,” the researchers wrote. About half of passengers who die in crashes each year in the U.S. don’t wear seat belts, and about one-third of traffic fatalities involve alcohol impairment.
Also see Reducing Traffic Deaths.