Top 5 Takeaways

  1. The highest motor vehicle crash death rate among high-income countries: In 2019, the United States had the highest population-based motor vehicle crash death rate (11.1 per 100,000 population) among 29 high-income countries.
  2. Stagnant reduction efforts in the U.S.: Unlike 22 other countries that saw a decrease in motor vehicle crash death rates from 2015 to 2019, the U.S. experienced a nominal increase of 0.1%.
  3. Comparison of death rates: The U.S. also had higher than average distance-based (1.11 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) and vehicle-based (1.21 per 10,000 registered vehicles) death rates in 2019.
  4. Lives and costs saved with average rates: Achieving the average population-based crash death rate of other high-income countries could save approximately 20,517 lives and $280.5 million in medical costs annually in the U.S.
  5. Safe System approach: The implementation of the Safe System approach, which prioritizes safety for all road users and accounts for human error, could significantly reduce motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Merissa A. Yellman,

Suggested Citation

Yellman MA, Sauber-Schatz EK. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths — United States and 28 Other High-Income Countries, 2015 and 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:837–843. DOI:


Motor vehicle crashes, a preventable but leading cause of death in the United States, resulted in an average of 36,791 deaths each year from 2015 to 2019. In comparison to 28 other high-income countries, the U.S. had the highest population-based death rate in 2019, with minimal progress in reducing these rates from 2015 to 2019.


The CDC analyzed data from the International Transport Forum’s International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) for 2015 and 2019. The study included high-income countries with over 1 million persons that provided comprehensive crash death data. The analysis calculated population-based, distance-based, and vehicle-based death rates, including changes over the specified period.


Despite slight decreases in distance-based and vehicle-based death rates, the United States lagged in improving its population-based motor vehicle crash death rate, which increased nominally by 0.1% from 2015 to 2019. This stagnation contrasts sharply with the average rate improvements seen in other high-income countries.


The United States could save lives and reduce medical costs by aligning its motor vehicle crash death rates with those of other high-income countries. Adopting the Safe System approach, a proven strategy emphasizing safety for all road users, could facilitate progress towards reducing crash deaths in the U.S.


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