Droppin’ Science: Uncovering the Truth Behind Accidents [w/ INFOGRAPHIC]

Video Game Car Crash

Whether traveling by car, train, airplane, or other mode of transportation, everyone fears having an accident. High profile deaths, such as James Dean’s fatal wreck in his Porsche Spider at the age of 24 haunt people’s minds, reminding them of lives cut short and the danger that can sometimes come with transportation.

But what is the reality and how can consumers improve their odds of avoiding or surviving an accident?So, where are you more likely to get hurt or killed?

Motor Vehicles

According to Department of Transportation statistics, a person is fatally hurt in a car crash every 12 seconds, and every 14 seconds, someone is injured in a car wreck. Around 30,000 people in the United States die in car wrecks each year, about 32 percent of them are the result of drunk driving, and 30 percent are the result of speeding.

While many people consider SUV’s to be safer, there are some concerns. Sports utility vehicles are four times more likely to roll over than passenger cars, and they are twice as likely to kill the driver of the other vehicle in a collision. And SUV’s aren’t without their celebrity deaths. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez of the famous R&B group TLC, tragically died at the age of 30 when her SUV veered off the road in Honduras.

In the case of motorcycle accidents, 45 percent of all fatalities are single-vehicle crashes and head injury is the number one cause of death. Half of all fatalities involve encounters with curves in the road and 60 percent of fatalities occur at night.

In 2008, 30,774 people died in car, SUV, or motorcycle accidents. There were also more than 2.1 million injuries.

Taking to the Air

Plane Crash

February 2, 1959, is mourned in Don McClean’s song American Pie as “the day the music died.” It was the day Buddy Holly, 22; Ritchie Valen, 17; and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane wreck. But what the odds of that happening to you?

The death rate from plane crashes is .02 per 100,000 population, which is pretty good odds when compared to the 15.44 per 100,000 death rate for motor vehicles. Only 20 percent of people in a plane crash die, and the majority are killed by smoke inhalation and fire, not by the crash.

In 2008, 494 people died in plane crashes.

Riding the Train

Train Crash

Trains are even safer; their death rate is .0007 per 100,000. The vast majority of accidents involving trains – 96 percent of them – occur at railroad crossings. The reasons for this are varied. Some motorists try to “beat the train.” In other cases, poor crossing design, malfunctioning warning equipment, and even failure of the train’s operator to sound the horn, can lead to accidents.

The greatest cause of death in train wrecks stems from crushing injuries in which a person is pinned against a table, wall, or other object, damaging internal organs.

In 2008, 514 deaths and 7,840 injuries were reported in train accidents.

Hopping the Bus

Despite high-profile bus wrecks, in 2008 there were 67 deaths and 15,149 injuries in bus wrecks. A common cause of death is from injuries sustained due to the forward momentum of the bus at the time of the wreck.

Riding a Bike

Riding a bike, the pedaling kind, most deaths occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Often fatalities occur on curves in the road when the bicyclist loses control and/or collides with a car. The odds are clear. A bicyclist in a collision with a car has a 1:63 chance of survival during the day. At night, the odds drop to less than 1:20.

In 2008, there were 52,395 injuries and 718 deaths reported due to bicycling accidents.


One of the healthiest forms of exercise, walking isn’t without some risk. Around 90 percent of pedestrian deaths are single-vehicle accidents, and cell phones and iPods are increasing being blamed for distracting pedestrians.

Just six hours in the day – 6 p.m. to midnight – account for 50 percent of all pedestrian accidents, and more than two-thirds of pedestrian deaths occur on urban roadways.

Final Thoughts

Despite the seemingly scary statistics, each mode of transportation is actually quite safe, particularly if people follow basic, common safety tips, such as wearing a seat belt, which increases survival odds dramatically, or for a motorcyclist, wearing a helmet, which increases survival odds by 37 percent.

The following graphic puts the statistics in perspective, and offers common sense and little known tips on how to survive an accident in the more popular modes of transportation.

Uncovering the Truth Behind Transportation Accidents

Created by iMingle Auto Insurance