Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the US. The lifetime economic costs of motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2010 was $242 billion, which represents the cost of 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles.
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths is a Rate
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths is the number of deaths due to traffic accidents involving a motor vehicle per 100,000 population. Rates measure the number of events (i.e., deaths, births, etc.) in a given time period (generally one or more years) divided by the average number of people at risk during that period. Rates help us compare health data across counties with different population sizes.
Deaths are Counted in the County of Residence for the Person Who Died, Rather than the County Where the Death Occurred
It is important to note that deaths are counted in the county of residence of the deceased. So, even if a motor vehicle crash death occurred across the state, the death is counted in the home county of the individual who died.
Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths Methodology Has Changed
Prior to the 2013 County Health Rankings, non-traffic motor vehicle accidents were included in the definition of motor vehicle crash deaths. Starting in 2013, the County Health Rankings changed the definition of motor vehicle crash deaths to exclude non-traffic accidents to better align with Healthy People 2020.
Some Data are Suppressed
A missing value is reported for counties with fewer than 10 motor vehicle crash deaths in the time frame.
The numerator includes traffic accidents involving motorcycles, 3-wheel motor vehicles, cars, vans, trucks, buses, street cars, ATVs, industrial, agricultural, and construction vehicles, and bicyclists or pedestrians when colliding with any of these vehicles, over a 7-year period (ICD10 codes: V02-V04 (.1, .9), V09.2, V12-V14 (.3-.9), V19 (.4-.6), V20-V28 (.3-.9), V29-V79 (.4-.9), V80 (.3-.5), V81.1, V82.1, V83-V86 (.0-.3), V87 (.0-.8), and V89.2). Deaths due to boating accidents and airline crashes are not included in the numerator.
The denominator is the aggregate annual population over the 7-year period.
This measure can be used to measure progress with some caveats. It is important to note that the estimate provided in the County Health Rankings is a 7-year average. However, in most counties, it is relatively simple to obtain single year estimates from the resource included below. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths data can also be further broken down by year and vehicle type or pedestrian involvement. These breakdowns could help measure the impact of interventions specific to motor vehicle crash prevention.
Years of Data Used
CDC WONDER mortality data
The Compressed Mortality File (CMF) is a county-level national mortality and population database spanning the years 1968-2017. Compressed Mortality data are updated annually. The number of deaths, crude death rates and age-adjusted death rates can be obtained by place of residence (total U.S., Census region, Census division, state, and county), age group, race (years 1968-1998: White, Black, and Other; years 1999-present: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, and White), Hispanic origin (years 1968-1998: not available; years 1999-present: Hispanic or Latino, not Hispanic or Latino, Not Stated), gender, year of death, underlying cause of death (years 1968-1978: 4 digit ICD-8 codes and 69 cause-of-death recode; years 1979-1998: 4-digit ICD-9 codes and 72 cause-of-death recode; years 1999-present: 4-digit ICD-10 codes and 113 cause-of-death recode), and urbanization level of residence (years 1968-1998: not available; years 1999-present: per the 2006 or the 2013 NCHS Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties).
 Blincoe LJ, Miller TR, Zaloshnja E, Lawrence BA. The economic and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes, 2010. (Report No. DOT HS 812 013). May 2015. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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