Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries

Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries

There were an estimated 3.6 million motor vehicle-related injuries in the United States in 2002, according to data reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)1 (box 9-D) [1]. An estimated 3.3 million of these injuries involved motor vehicle occupants. The rest involved about 130,000 pedestrians, 114,000 motorcyclists, and 59,000 pedalcyclists.

More females than males were treated for minor injuries in 2002 across most age groups (figure 9-8). The 20 to 24 age group sustained almost 480,000 minor motor vehicle-related injuries. For serious injuries, more males than females were treated across all age groups up to about 65 years (figure 9-9). Again, serious injuries spiked at ages 20 to 24, but male injuries spiked substantially higher. This age group incurred over 35,000 serious injuries in 2002, 64 percent of which 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 (21 percent of all motorcyclist injuries were serious), pedestrians (19 percent), and pedalcyclists (13 percent) than it was for motor vehicle occupants (7 percent) (figure 9-10).

This analysis comes from a Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) comprehensive study using 2002 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 for injuries involving collisions with moving motor vehicles.3


1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), information available at, as of June 2003.

1 Because of methodological and other differences, motor vehicle-related injury data from CPSC differ from those estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. For 2002, 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.