What age group has the most fatal crashes? (#1 Will Surprise You)

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Things to remember...

  • The deadliest drivers are not teens or the elderly
  • Drivers in their early 20s get in the most fatal crashes
  • Drivers aged 20 to 24 are the deadliest in 36 states
  • Teens were involved in the most crashes in just one state
  • Drivers aged 60 plus are the deadliest in ZERO states

Every time you get in the car and drive, you’re taking a risk.

In the U.S. alone, over six million car accidents occur annually. For over five years the reports have shown that every 12 minutes someone is killed, and every 14 seconds someone is injured in a car crash on American roads.

You may view yourself as a safe driver who would never cause an accident — especially a fatal one — but humans make mistakes, and it takes under a second for a mistake to cost a life. Plus there are dangerous, irresponsible drivers everywhere. Sadly, car accidents are often inescapable.

Car insurance companies know these unavoidable accidents all too well. They have studied factors that make drivers more likely to crash, such as AGE.

For example, teen drivers and elderly drivers are typically classified by insurance providers as high risk. However, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed millennials to be even more dangerous than the oldest and newest drivers, thanks to texting behind the wheel, speeding, and running red lights.

There are conflicting opinions out there, so let’s get to the facts.

The 5 Age Groups Involved in the Most Fatal Crashes

The below rankings and highlights are based on the most up-to-date 2016 U.S. national fatal crash totals. See our full methodology here.

Read on to find out not only which age groups get in the most fatal crashes nationwide, but also where drivers of that age are ranked first as the deadliest in that area.

Sit back and enjoy the ride, or actually, brace yourselves. You may be in for a surprise!

#5 – Drivers Aged 50 to 54

Number of U.S. Drivers this Age: 20,186,494
Percent of All U.S. Drivers: 9.1 percent
Fatal Crash Rate (per 100,000 drivers): 20.3
Worst State for this Age Group: District of Columbia (1st)

13.16 percent of the fatal car accidents that occurred in D.C. in 2016 involved 50 to 54-year-olds.

Here are the five states drivers in their early 50s were involved in the most fatal car crashes:

  • California – 411
  • Florida – 351
  • Georgia – 179
  • Pennsylvania – 153
  • Texas – 402

A total of 4,105 people in their early fifties got into a fatal car crash in 2016 in America. 1,496 (36 percent) of those crashes took place in one of the five states above.

#4 – Drivers Aged 35 to 39

Number of U.S. Drivers this Age: 18,648,734
Percent of All U.S. Drivers: 8.4 percent
Fatal Crash Rate (per 100,000 drivers): 22.3
Worst State for this Age Group: Delaware (1st)

Fortunately, there are over 1.5 million fewer drivers in the U.S. aged 35-39 than those aged 50-54 because the drivers in their late 30s are significantly more deadly, at two more fatal crashes for every 100k drivers.

35 to 39-year-olds were involved in 10.59 percent of all the fatal accidents in Delaware.

Accidents just like the one in this news report: a woman ran a stop sign in Delaware and was pronounced dead on the scene. A 35-year-old made one mistake and mere seconds later, she was dead. 

These are the five states where the most fatal crashes involved this age group:

  • California – 374
  • Florida – 338
  • Georgia – 183
  • North Carolina – 161
  • Texas – 454

Out of the total 4,160 fatal crashes in America involving drivers aged 35-39, 1,510 of them occurred in the above five states.

#3 – Drivers Aged 30 to 34

Number of U.S. Drivers this Age: 19,471,500
Percent of All U.S. Drivers: 8.8 percent
Fatal Crash Rate (per 100,000 drivers): 25.2
Worst State for this Age Group: District of Columbia (1st)

There are nearly a million more drivers aged 30-34 than those aged 35-39, which is unfortunate because this slightly younger age group is significantly more deadly behind the wheel.

Drivers in their early 30s got in 744 more fatal car crashes than drivers in their late 30s. That’s no little thing considering at least one person died in every one of those crashes.

Here are the five states where 30 to 34-year-olds were involved in the most deadly crashes:

  • California – 487
  • Florida – 396
  • Georgia – 193
  • North Carolina – 193
  • Texas – 559

This is the second time D.C. was ranked first in the U.S. for an age group’s involvement in crashes. However, drivers in their early 30s were involved in a lot more fatal crashes than those in their early 50s.

In 2016, 28.95 percent (nearly one third!) of all the fatal car crashes in D.C. involved 30 to 34-year-old drivers.

#2 – Drivers Aged 25 to 29

Number of U.S. Drivers this Age: 19,722,565
Percent of All U.S. Drivers: 8.9 percent
Fatal Crash Rate (per 100,000 drivers): 30.1
Worst State for this Age Group: Rhode Island (1st)

Out of all the 20s and 30s age groups, there is the largest number of drivers who fall into the 25 to 29-year-old category. There are at least a quarter of a million more drivers aged 25-29 than those aged 20-24, 30-34, or 35-39.

It’s terrifying that there is such a high number of drivers in their late 20s in the U.S., because they have an extremely high fatal crash rate and were involved in 5,911 traffic accidents resulting in deaths in 2016 alone.

The following five states are where 25 to 29-year-old drivers were involved in the most deadly wrecks:

  • California – 655
  • Florida – 551
  • Georgia – 229
  • North Carolina – 211
  • Texas – 639

2,285 of the fatal crashes involving drivers in their late 20s all occurred in the above five states — that’s nearly half!

16.67 percent of all statewide crashes in Rhode Island in 2016 involved drivers aged 25-29, ranking the state 1st in the nation for this very reason.

#1 – Drivers Aged 20 to 24

Number of U.S. Drivers this Age: 17,710,048
Percent of All U.S. Drivers: 7.9 percent
Fatal Crash Rate (per 100,000 drivers): 36.3
Worst State for this Age Group: Vermont (1st)

The deadliest aged drivers on the road in America are 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24. Those five short years wreak havoc on our nation’s roadways.

In 2016, drivers in this age group were involved in 6,424 fatal car accidents — that’s at least 513 more than any other age group of drivers.

These are the five states where the most 20 to 24-year-olds were involved in fatal crashes:

  • California – 760
  • Florida – 608
  • Georgia – 257
  • North Carolina – 238
  • Texas – 696

Drivers in their early 20s were involved in 2,559 fatal crashes in those five states alone, which was 40 percent of the national total for this age group!

Being a much smaller state, Vermont doesn’t have as high a total number, but its percentage of crashes involving drivers this age is downright shocking. 22.08 percent of Vermont’s deadly car accidents all involved drivers in their early 20s.

“Driver impairment, speed, failure to use restraints and distracted driving continue to be the leading causes for these tragedies.” – Lt. Allen Fortin of Shelburne,VT

3 Highlights and Trends

#3 – Deadliest Drivers by Age

Age Group:U.S. Fatal
Crash Total:
Drivers Aged 20-246,424
Drivers Aged 25-295,911
Drivers Aged 30-344,904
Drivers Aged 35-394,160
Drivers Aged 50-544,105

As drivers increase by age, the total fatal crashes they are involved in decreases.

It’s interesting how the top five deadliest age groups all include drivers in their 20s and 30s, but completely skip over drivers in their early and late 40s.

Our data disproves the myth that teens are the deadliest drivers. They might pay higher car insurance than the rest of us, but drivers aged 19 and under are NOT in the top five deadliest age groups of drivers in America.

#2 – How the States Stacked Up

  • The smaller states in the U.S. are where there were the highest percentage of fatal crashes by a particular age group, which is why they earned the overall highest rankings in the nation: District of Columbia (twice), Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Whereas the larger states with the most people are where the most fatal crashes by one age group occurred. For all five age groups in this ranking, the states with the most fatal crashes were California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
  • Only once was Pennsylvania a top-five state instead of North Carolina (for drivers aged 50-54) which is due in part to Pennsylvania’s high percentage of older drivers.

#1 – Age Groups Across America

State:Worst
Age Group:
Percent of all
Fatal Crashes:
Alabama30-3411.46
Alaska20-2415.74
Arizona20-2412.78
Arkansas25-2911.23
California20-2415.14
Colorado20-2413.41
Connecticut20-2412.38
Delaware20-2414.71
District of Columbia30-3428.95
Florida20-2413.28
Georgia20-2411.95
Hawaii20-2415.03
Idaho20-2412.46
Illinois25-2912.13
Indiana20-2413.35
Iowa20-2411.99
Kansas20-2410.43
Kentucky20-2411.57
Louisiana25-2913.21
Maine30-3410.68
Maryland25-2913.09
Massachusetts20-2415.77
Michigan20-2412.08
Minnesota20-2410.09
Mississippi20-2412.24
Missouri20-2411.34
Montana55-5911.32
Nebraska20-2413.58
Nevada20-2413.20
New Hampshire20-2415.03
New Jersey20-2413.32
New Mexico20-2415.17
New York25-2912.79
North Carolina20-2411.83
North Dakota45-4910.87
Ohio25-2910.28
Oklahoma30-3411.87
Oregon20-2411.75
Pennsylvania20-2411.34
Rhode Island20-2419.70
South Carolina25-2912.46
South Dakota19 and under13.77
Tennessee20-2411.37
Texas20-2413.24
Utah20-2411.94
Vermont20-2422.08
Virginia20-2411.70
Washington20-2412.29
West Virginia20-2412.85
Wisconsin20-2412.42
Wyoming25-2913.25

Even simplified, that’s still a lot of data for one chart.

Here’s how many times each age group was the deadliest in a state:

  • Drivers 19 & Under: 1 state
  • Drivers Aged 20-24: 36 states
  • Drivers Aged 25-29: 8 states
  • Drivers Aged 30-34: 4 states
  • Drivers Aged 45-49: 1 state
  • Drivers Aged 55-59: 1 state

These are the age groups that never showed up as the most deadly in D.C. or any of the 50 states:

  • 35-39
  • 40-44
  • 50-54
  • 60-64
  • 65-69
  • 70-74
  • 75-79
  • 80-84
  • 85+

Did you notice two of the above age groups still ranked as the top five most deadly in this year’s study? Although those age groups are among the five deadliest in the U.S., there was another group of drivers in that particular state that was involved in more fatal crashes.

For this study, each state had one age group that was the deadliest, and each age group had a state that it ranked the worst in comparison to the rest of the nation. Those percents and rankings are listed in our article above.

Driving it Home

As you saw above, 36 of the 51 states and D.C. — 72 percent — had 20 to 24-year-olds as their deadliest age group being involved in the most fatal car crashes.

This study proves that young adults in their early 20s are actually more dangerous behind the wheel than teens and older drivers.

Maybe it is the legal drinking started at 21 . . . a new freedom abused? Too much college partying? First time living away from parents, fewer rules, no curfew? . . . Maybe all the above.

A study by Injury Prevention supports our inferences: “Research shows that parental restrictions make a difference in the driving behavior of adolescents, and it seems likely that the lack of such restrictions contributes to driving risk in emerging adulthood.”

Just remember, it is always the motorist’s sole responsibility to drive safely. A driver’s mistakes behind the wheel can (and will) affect others’ lives — often with painful and costly consequences.

The excuse of age cannot bring back lives or fix life-long injuries. Treacherous drivers cost lives in seconds no matter how old they are.

Methodology

To conduct this study, our team of researchers split drivers into 15 age groups (see all 15 here) to find out exactly which drivers are involved in the most fatal crashes in the nation.

Once the crash data was split up and organized by these five-year increments (and 85+), we then had to determine the following:

  • Total number of licensed drivers in each state
  • Total number of fatal crashes in each state
  • Percentage of the total drivers for each age group
  • Percentage of the total crashes for each age group
  • Number of fatal crashes for each age group

We determined state and national totals and percentages for all of the above categories.

With these detailed calculations, we were then able to not only determine which age group was the deadliest in each state, but in what state each age group ranked the worst compared to the rest of the country.

All of the rankings were determined by the percentage of the total fatal crashes that age group was involved in.

See our full in-depth study statistics organized across six main sections here.

All of our fatal crash statistics came from the most up-to-date, credible resource on the matter: the 2016 fatal crash reports from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) published by the NHTSA.

We collected the licensed drivers totals from the U.S. DOT’s Federal Highway Administration: Highway Statistics for 2016.

For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes

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