Who is at Highest Risk for Getting into a Car Accident?

Auto accidents do not discriminate.  Deadly crashes and collisions can happen at any time, on any road, regardless of factors like weather conditions, driver experience, or time of day.  That being said, government analyses do appear to indicate that certain demographics are more likely to be involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania.

2014 Pennsylvania Auto Accident Statistics

Conventional wisdom says that teenagers are among the most dangerous drivers on the road.  After all, the stereotypical teen driver:

  • Has less experience than an adult driver.
  • Is prone to getting distracted by their phone (or by a car full of rowdy friends).
  • Might drive recklessly or take unnecessary risks because they want to impress their friends, or simply because they’re excited about finally having a license.

At the other end of the age spectrum, elderly people also tend to be stereotyped as unsafe drivers.  Whether they were joking or serious, you’ve probably heard someone complain that older drivers should be retested, or even have their licenses taken away once they reach a certain age, citing slowed reaction time, poor vision, and other factors associated with aging.  The CDC even identifies older adult drivers as a high-risk group.

Car accident in the middle of the street

Depending on which teen or elderly individual you’re talking about, any and all of these statements might be true.  But are teens and seniors really the only people to whom these descriptions could apply?  That seems unlikely.  Let’s look at what government data has to say about which demographics are most often involved in crashes and collisions.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) releases an annual report detailing statewide crash facts and statistics, including causes, economic losses, historical trends, and other pertinent data.  The 2014 report found that there were 121,317 known crashes (down from 124,149 the previous year), collectively resulting in:

  • 79,758 total injuries, including:
    • 3,042 “major” injuries
    • 12,075 “moderate” injuries
  • 1,195 total deaths, including:
    • 166 pedestrian deaths
    • 186 motorcyclist deaths
    • 312 deaths involving speeding
    • 333 deaths involving alcohol (DUI/DWI)

Surprisingly, the most common type of accident – and most common cause of death – also seems to be the most avoidable: crashing into a stationary object, like a tree or a telephone pole.  These types of accidents accounted for 38,553 crashes and 425 deaths (or about 31.8% and 35.6% of all crashes and fatalities, respectively).

Conversely, the least common cause of death was being sideswiped (5.4%, or 64 deaths), while the least common type of accident was a tie between head-on collisions and striking pedestrians (both at 3.2%, or both about 3,900 accidents).

Who Causes the Most Car Crashes and Collisions?

Now that we know what type of accidents occurred most frequently, the next question is, who was most frequently involved?

The report answers that question quite succinctly: “In every age group, male drivers are involved in more crashes than female drivers.”

That statement doesn’t leave much room for interpretation.  But were teenagers and senior citizens really the most dangerous groups, like most people would probably expect?  Let’s refer to the report’s findings about age group as it correlates with the incidence of traffic accidents.  Since men were consistently involved in more accidents than women, we’ll keep things simple by using only the statistics related to male drivers.

  • Under 16 – 94 crashes
  • 16 to 20 – 13,201 crashes
  • 21 to 25 – 16,568 crashes
  • 26 to 30 – 12,902 crashes
  • 31 to 35 – 10,391 crashes
  • 36 to 40 – 8,648 crashes
  • 41 to 45 – 9,100 crashes
  • 46 to 50 – 9,234 crashes
  • 51 to 55 – 9,188 crashes
  • 56 to 60 – 8,019 crashes
  • 61 to 65 – 5,952 crashes
  • 66 to 70 – 4,049 crashes
  • 71 to 75 – 2,727 crashes
  • Above 75 – 3,932 crashes

The teen group – even when combined with 20-year-olds – accounted for 13,295 crashes.  Meanwhile, all drivers age 66 and up (considering “older adults” are technically defined as those 65 and older) collectively accounted for just 10,708 accidents.

car accident in pennsylvania

Even if we’re extremely generous with our allocation of the numbers, and assume that 65-year-olds alone caused a full 3,000 of the 5,952 accidents in the 61 to 65 age group, the total number of accidents caused by “older adults” still only comes out to 13,708 accidents.

In other words, both the senior numbers and the teen numbers – even when inflated – actually come out to be lower than the number of accidents caused by drivers in the 21 to 25 age group.  Maybe our cultural gripes about teenaged and elderly drivers have been misdirected all along.

If you’d like to learn more, feel free to browse through the full PennDOT crash report.

If you were hit by a car in Pennsylvania, you may be able to collect compensation to help cover your medical bills, lost income, and other financial hardships resulting from your vehicular accident.  When unsafe drivers put the motorists around them in danger, they should be held accountable for the damages they inflict upon accident victims.  To start discussing your case in a free and private legal consultation, call Philadelphia auto accident lawyer Brent Wieand at 1(888) 789-3161.

Schedule free consultation
Get Started Today!