Are Passengers or Drivers More Likely to Be Injured in Crashes?

transport, vehicle and taxi concept - male driver driving car with passenger

Who faces a greater risk of injury or death in motor vehicle crashes: drivers or passengers? It’s a critical question, as the answer has profound implications for road safety, vehicle design, and the law.

Whether you were a driver or passenger in a car accident, knowing your rights and options can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Let’s explore those in detail.

Who Is Most Likely to Be Injured in a Car Crash: The Driver or Passengers?

While every occupant is at risk of injury in the event of a car crash, studies show that drivers account for about three-quarters of all passenger vehicle fatalities. One reason for this increased risk is likely that drivers, by definition, sit in the front of the vehicle, which the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports is the point of impact cited in half of all auto insurance claims.

Also, by definition, all vehicles have a driver, but many don’t carry passengers in the front or back seats. That said, we should not ignore the risks car passengers face in motor vehicle accidents. They can also suffer devastating consequences from a collision regardless of their seating position.

Factors Affecting Passenger Injury Rates

Several factors determine the likelihood of a passenger being injured in a car accident. For example, seat belt use dramatically reduces the risk of severe, life-threatening injuries by keeping passengers securely in place during a crash. Another critical factor is the size of the vehicle. Larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks impart more force in the event of a collision, protecting their own occupants while increasing the risk of severe injuries for people in the smaller vehicles they hit.

Furthermore, vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks have different safety features and crash dynamics compared to standard passenger cars, which can affect injury rates in these vehicles. Other relevant factors related to occupant safety include the seating positions of passengers within the vehicle, the presence of airbags, and the angle and speed of the crash. Child passengers also face a significant injury risk, particularly when they are not correctly secured in the correct type of child restraint seats or booster seats. The car seat position should always be in the rear seat.

Factors Affecting Driver Injury Rates

Driver injury rates in car accidents are the product of several critical factors, including:

  • Whether the driver was wearing a seat belt
  • The design and safety features of the vehicle, such as airbags and crumple zones
  • The speed at which the accident occurs, as force increases with speed
  • The angle of collision and point of impact

Statistics on Passenger and Driver Injuries

Data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation show that 1,202 drivers and 284 passengers died in traffic accidents statewide during one recent year. Another 80,013 drivers and 29,174 passengers were injured in car accidents. While this might seem to support the assumption that drivers are at a greater risk of injury or death in traffic collisions, it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions without knowing the occupancy rate of the vehicles involved.

Contact Our North Carolina Car Accident Attorneys Now

Drivers and passengers injured in car accidents deserve the help of capable attorneys in their fight for compensation. If you were injured in a car accident as a passenger or as a driver, the team with Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, is ready to handle your personal injury claim while you rest and heal. Contact us today to get started with a free consultation.

Davis Poisson is a trial attorney with Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC and is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Davis devotes the majority of his practice to civil litigation with a focus on personal injury law. He represents clients throughout the Carolinas in all areas of personal injury law including car accidents, trucking accidents, catastrophic injury, premises liability and wrongful death cases.