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Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries

Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries

There were an estimated 3.6 million highway-related injuries in the United States in 2001, according to data reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)1 (see box) [1]. An estimated 3.3 million of these injuries involved motor vehicle occupants. The rest involved about 131,000 pedestrians, 111,000 motorcyclists, and 60,000 pedalcyclists.

More females than males were treated for minor injuries in 2001 across most age groups, with spikes for people aged 15 to 24 (figure 67). This age group sustained almost 1 million minor motor vehicle-related injuries. For serious injuries, more males than females were treated across all age groups up to about 65 years (figure 68). Again, serious injuries spiked at ages 15 to 24, but male injuries spiked substantially higher. This age group incurred about 84,000 serious injuries in 2001 of which 61 percent happened to males.

In summary, there were sharp peaks in injuries associated with youth: for motor vehicle occupants and motorcyclists, the peak spanned ages 15 to 24; for pedalcyclists and pedestrians, the peak spanned ages 10 to 14. Young males exhibited a substantially greater peak in serious injuries than young females. In addition, the percentage of injuries classified as serious was greater for motorcyclists (20 percent of all motorcyclist injuries were serious), pedestrians (19 percent), and pedalcyclists (10 percent) than it was for motor vehicle occupants (7 percent) (figure 69).

This analysis comes from a Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) comprehensive study using 2001 data from the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Only a small portion of the BTS study is presented here. The study included data on motor vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, pedalcyclists, and pedestrians injured on or near public roads,2 but only on injuries involving collisions with moving motor vehicles.3 BTS also compared data on minor and serious injuries.


1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), information available at http://www.cpsc.gov/Neiss/oracle.html, as of June 2003.

1 Because of methodological differences, highway injury data from CPSC differ from those estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. For 2001, NHTSA reported an estimated 3.0 million highway injuries.

2 This includes injuries involving traffic on public roads and in driveways and parking lots, and at other locations near, but not on, public roads.

3 This excludes occupants injured when entering or exiting parked vehicles, pedalcyclists injured by parked cars or other fixed objects, and pedestrians struck by pedalcyclists or off-road vehicles.

Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2017