Automobile Fatalities and Compulsory Insurance

January 30, 1928

Report Outline
Compulsory Automobile Insurance
Automobile Accident Compensation Plans
Automobile Accident Prevention

During the last ten years automobile fatalities in the United States have more than doubled. In the same period the number of motor vehicles in operation in the United States has more than quadrupled. While the total of deaths, in proportion to the number of cars, trucks and busses registered, was cut nearly in half during the decade 1917–1926, the fatalities for each 100,000 of the population from accidents in which automobiles were involved increased from 9.9 to 19.9. The steady upward trend of automobile fatalities during this period is shown in the following table.

Year Automobiles registered Automobile fatalities Cars registered for each death
1917 4,983,340 10,081 494
1918 6,146,617 10,548 583
1919 7,565,446 10,811 700
1920 9,231,941 12,186 757
1921 10,463,295 13,612 769
1922 12,238,375 15,049 813
1923 15,092,177 18,103 834
1924 17,593,677 19,307 911
1925 19,954,347 21,627 923
1926 22,001,393 23,264 946

The foregoing estimates of automobile fatalities for the country as a whole are based upon the reports of the Census Bureau for the death registration area, which now includes 89.9 per cent of the population of the United States. They take account of deaths due to collisions of automobiles with street cars and locomotives, which are not ordinarily included in the Census Bureau's classification of automobile fatalities. Figures of comparable accuracy for the year 1927 will not be available until December, 1928, when the Census Bureau completes its compilation of last year's reports for the registration area.

Seventy six cities with populations in excess of 100,000 accounted for 28.3 per cent of the automobile deaths in 1926. Census Bureau figures show that deaths in these cities increased from 6586 in 1926 to 7016 in 1927, an increase of 6.5 per cent. If the rate of increase in the rest of the country during 1927 was the same as in these 76 large cities, the total of automobile fatalities for the year was in the neighborhood of 24,775.

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