What Are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash in Chicago?

Between the ages of one and 44, the leading cause of death in the United States is accidental injury. About 42% of unintentional injuries happen in traffic accidents, followed by falls (15%) and poisoning (14%). Beyond the age of 45, accidental injuries are still among the top three leading causes of death, with COVID-19 excluded. 

Every year, about 40,000 people are killed in car accidents across the country. But what are your odds of actually dying in a crash? 

The Odds of Dying in a Chicago Car Accident

In 2022, there were 160 motor vehicle fatalities in Chicago. They involved: 

With a population of 2.67 million, there were 6.0 traffic deaths per 100,000 people in Chicago. That’s less than half the national rate of traffic deaths: 14.3 fatalities per 100,000 people. Across Illinois, there were 16 fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers. 

To put that into perspective, the Chicago homicide rate in 2022 was 27.2 per 100,000 people. That means you are more than four times more likely to be the victim of homicide than to die in a car accident. 

Of course, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. For example, the homicide rate is misleading because it doesn’t indicate your risk. A large share of homicides involve gang violence or victims who knew their attacker, not random killings. 

The rate of traffic deaths includes motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, all of whom are more likely to be killed in a crash than occupants of a vehicle. 

According to the National Safety Council, the lifetime odds of dying in a crash are one in 93. This is different from your odds of dying in a crash every time you get behind the wheel or even over the course of a year. 

By comparison, the lifetime odds are one in six for heart disease, one in seven for cancer, one in 98 for a fall, and one in 19 for all preventable causes of death. 

You Have a Higher Chance of Being Injured in a Crash

There were 108,403 crashes in Chicago in 2022 involving 233,775 people. 

While 91% of people involved in these collisions did not suffer any known or reported injuries, 9% suffered injury or death. 

  • Non-incapacitating injury: 12,740 (5%)
  • Reported injury (not apparent): 6,924 (3%)
  • Incapacitating injury: 2,291 (1%)

About 8% of people involved in a crash suffered reported or apparent, non-incapacitating injuries. Just 0.06% of the people involved were killed. You are much more likely to be injured in a car accident than killed. 

Even more concerning, one out of every 100 people involved in a crash suffered serious or even catastrophic injuries

Factors That Increase the Risk of Dying in a Car Crash

Most auto accidents in Chicago are preventable. While you can’t control the behavior of other drivers, you can significantly reduce your own risk of being hurt or killed in a crash. Three behaviors account for a disproportionate amount of traffic deaths. 


Nationwide, nearly 29% of all traffic deaths involve speeding. Motorcyclists had the highest rate of speeding: 33% were speeding at the time of a fatal crash. Young men had the highest rate of speeding: 35% of men 15 to 20 involved in a fatal accident were speeding. 

Illinois has one of the highest rates of speeding-related traffic deaths. In 2021, 37% of traffic deaths involved speeding. Illinois had the fourth-highest number of speeding-related fatalities at 487, behind Texas, California, and Pennsylvania. 

There is a lot of crossover between speeding and drunk driving. About 37% of people speeding at the time of a fatal crash were also at or over the legal limit. 

Drugged or Drunk Driving

About 31% of traffic accident deaths involve a drunk driver. Drugged or drunk drivers don’t just risk the lives of others; they also put their own lives at risk. 

A large study found that half of people killed or hurt in traffic accidents had drugs and/or alcohol in their systems. About 20% of drivers in the study had a blood alcohol concentration at or over the legal limit. 

Single-vehicle crashes accounted for 41% of alcohol-related motorcycle accidents in 2020, killing 880 motorcyclists. More than one-third of motorcyclists killed in a collision were over the legal limit. 

Not Wearing a Seat Belt

About half of people killed in a crash were not wearing a seat belt. The NHTSA estimates that seat belts reduce the risk of front seat car occupant deaths by 45% and moderate to serious injuries by 50%. Occupants in pickup trucks minimize the risk of death by 60% by buckling up. 

Contact the Chicago Car Accident Law Firm of Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys for Help Today

While there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of dying or being hurt in a crash, you can never control the behavior of other motorists.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a careless or reckless driver, a personal injury lawyer can help. We are here to help you pursue the compensation you deserve from the at-fault driver.

For more information, please contact the experienced Chicago car accident lawyers at Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys today. We offer free consultations.

We proudly serve Cook County, Will County, Kendall County, and its surrounding areas:

Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys – Chicago Office
10 S La Salle St STE 1230, Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-1616

Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys – Joliet Office
195 Springfield Ave, Joliet, IL 60435
(815) 726-1616