The Big List — U.S. Road Crash Fatality Comparisons that will Stun You!

For many years, there has been a tendency to state that ‘x’ days of road fatalities are the same as a full Jumbo Jet airliner crashing, but no matter how effective the comparison is intended to be, this relies on both the teller and the listener knowing – for example – which size of Jumbo jet one is talking about; there are several different passenger-carrying capacities so even though it is a big plane the concept is a bit vague.

Memorial garden at the crash site of Colgan Air (Continental Connection) Flight 3407, which occured on February 12, 2009, with the loss of fifty lives.
The memorial garden in Clarence Center, NY, a location which — at the time of writing — is the site of the most recent passenger plane crash in the USA, which occurred more than ten years ago.  As a matter of perspective, however, the fifty people lost in that tragic, headline-news incident represent less than half of the people who are killed, on average, every single day of every year on America’s roads. (Copyright image, 2019.)

In the extensive list that follows, we are going to use specific events rather than a tenuous comparison, with the ratios based strictly on the latest available road-crash fatality data, so that the chart is fully up to date.

“We went to war over 9-11,  and metaphorically we certainly need to ‘go to war’ on road crashes!”  —  Eddie Wren,  Exec. Director,  Road Safety USA


The figures at the right, below, show how often the named tragedies on the left would have to occur to match the average number of deaths on America’s roads in the same period of time.

The most recent U.S. airliner crash (Buffalo, NY, 2009) . . . twice per day

Worst U.S. aviation disaster (Chicago, May 25, 1979) . . . . .every 2.5 days

Global plane crash deaths (yearly avg. for 2006-2018) . . . . every 5 days

Total losses when the Titanic sank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .every 14 days

Total losses in the atrocities of 9-11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . every 29 days

Total US losses in the Vietnam War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .every 13.5 months

Total US military losses in World War 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .every 11 years

Scene of a fatal road accident. (Copyright image, Eddie Wren, 2019.)
Scene of a fatal crash. (Copyright image, 2012.)

The severity of the situation has been referred to as an “epidemic” [Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, circa 2006] of injuries and deaths.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, in this article is intended to diminish or demean any of the tragedies listed.  The sole purpose in publishing this is to help people get a better grasp of the mind-blowing scale of road deaths in the USA.  We went to war over 9-11, and we NEED to effectively ‘go to war’ on road crashes!

One other shocking figure is that over a million Americans have been killed in road crashes in the last 25 years alone. [NHTSA figures]

The biggest point, though, is that much of this horrendous waste of life really need not be happening.  As just one example of this, if America could simply match the far better/lower rates of road deaths in the world’s leading countries, around 27,000 lives could be saved each year in the USA!

Road deaths are NOT an inescapable toll that is somehow a ‘necessary’ price of road transportation.


Related post:

A Pilot’s Comparison of Safety in Planes Versus Cars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.