Leading Causes of Car Accident Fatalities in Boston

June 1, 2015

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths, both in Boston and throughout the United States. At least 2.5 million people in the United States sought treatment in emergency departments for car accident injuries during the course of one year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Close to 200,000 of those injured needed to be hospitalized after a car, truck or motorcycle accident.

As a result of crash-related injuries, U.S. car accident victims spend a combined one million days in the hospital each year. In one recent year, approximately 18 billion dollars was spent on medical costs for car accident victims, 75 percent of which was incurred in the 18 months immediately following the injury.. Car accident injuries that same year resulted in 33 billion dollars worth of lost work over the course of the victims’ lifetimes.

In Suffolk County, which includes the Boston area, 22 people or 2.91 people per 100,000 population lost their lives in vehicle-related accidents in 2013, the latest year for which comprehensive numbers are available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In a five-year period, 3.316 was the average number of car accident deaths per 100,000 population..

YearFatalitiesFatalities per 100,000 population
Total Average24.43.316

The following is the list of the seven leading causes of death in those car accidents:

1. Single Vehicle Collisions

single vehicle collisions
Single vehicle collisions was the leading cause of car accident fatalities in Boston and Suffolk County during 2013. Traffic Safety Facts for Suffolk County, MA, published by the NHTSA, reveal that 19 people were killed in single vehicle crashes. Collisions such as these can occur as a result of a distracted driver, when a driver is inadvertently run off the road, due to road rage or aggressive driving behavior, or for numerous other reasons.

In certain cases, the circumstances leading up to the accident may never be uncovered, particularly when the driver is fatally injured.

2. Alcohol-Impaired Driving

alcohol-impaired drivingAlcohol-impaired driving is extremely dangerous, not only for the impaired driver and his or her passengers, but for many other motorists sharing the road. Drunk driving, also known as DWI or DUI, is also the second leading cause of car accident fatalities in the Boston area.. Accidents involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher were responsible for the deaths of nine people in 2013.

Younger drivers are more at risk of being involved in a fatal accident while alcohol-impaired than older drivers. Fortunately, drunk driving collisions and fatalities are preventable. Individuals who do not drink and drive, designate a sober driver, call a taxi or use public transportation protect themselves and others from harm.

3. Crash Involving a Roadway Departure

crash involving a roadway departure
Fatal crashes in which at least one of the involved vehicles departed the roadway were responsible for claiming the lives of nine people in 2013 in the Boston area. Of these accidents, distracted driving and speed are often the most significant factors. Traveling at night, or along a curved two-lane highway or road can also increase the risk of a fatal collision involving a roadway departure.

When a vehicle departs the road during or immediately following a crash, the probability of a driver and passengers sustaining additional injuries, potentially fatal, increases substantially. Colliding with a stationary object such as a tree, pole, retaining wall or guardrail along the edge of the highway are often the cause of fatal injuries.

4. Collisions Occuring In or Relating To Intersections

collisions occuring in or relating to intersections
The fourth leading cause of car accident fatalities in Boston and the surrounding areas during 2013 was intersection and intersection-related collisions. Eight people were killed in collisions occurring in or relating to intersections that year.

Failure to yield, neglecting to brake in time to avoid collision with a vehicle stopped at a light or stop sign, merging into another lane without signaling, drifting out of lanes, and loss of control due to poor road or weather conditions are some of the situations which could result in a car accident at an intersection.. Other fatal collisions may occur when a vehicle runs a red light at or speeds through an intersection, makes a left turn in front of traffic in an intersection, or turns right at an intersection without yielding the right of way to other drivers.

5. Speed-Involved Collisions

Five people sustained fatal injuries in collisions in the Boston area in 2013, with speed as the primary contributing factor. Drivers who fail to adhere to posted speed limit signs, attempt to take turns too tightly or fail to drive at a safe speed for weather and road conditions are at far greater risk of being involved in a fatal collision than those who follow the rules of the road.
speed-involved collisions
When a vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed, a minor mistake can easily become a deadly accident. A slight turn of the wheel is all that is needed to cause a speeding vehicle to spin out of control or roll over.

6. Large Truck-Involved Crashes

large truck-involved crashes
Crashes involving at least one large truck claimed the lives of two people in Suffolk County in 2013. The size of a large truck or tractor-trailer, the weight of its load and the speed at which it is traveling can all impact the potential for fatal injuries in an accident. The risk of catastrophic injury or death in a truck accident can also be expected to increase when a truck driver is driving while tired, distracted or impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Failure to adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours of Service regulations, while it may explain a crash involving a large truck, does not excuse the truck driver’s negligence. In addition to the trucking company, there may be other liable parties. Tire manufacturers, truck owners, maintenance personnel, the company that loaded or secured the cargo or other parties may have some responsibility for what happened if it is established that any act of negligence contributed to the truck going out of control.

7. Collisions Involving a Rollover

Two people were killed in rollover collisions in 2013 in Boston or the surrounding Suffolk County areas. When a vehicle rolls over following a crash with another vehicle or object, it increases the risk of serious injury or death to the vehicle’s occupants.

Vehicles with a higher center of gravity, such as SUVs and pickups are far more susceptible to rolling over in a single- or multi-vehicle collision. Speed and alcohol intoxication have also been known to be contributing factors in rollover accidents. Rural roads and highways are more likely to be the scene of a fatal rollover accident than downtown city streets, which tend to be more heavily travelled with traffic flowing at a slower rate of speed.

Overcompensation by distracted drivers attempting to avoid a collision can lead to a rollover collision. Whether the driver and passengers are wearing seatbelts at the time of impact and rollover will determine the severity of injuries.

collisions involving a rollover If you have lost a family member or loved one in a fatal car accident in the Boston area, it is important you speak with a skilled car accident attorney right away.. While nothing can be done to bring your loved one back, you may be entitled to pursue survivor benefits to help cover medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of future income, loss of companionship, as well as other economic and non-economic damages.


  • CDC: CDC: Vital Signs: Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries
  • NHTSA: Traffic Safety Facts Suffolk County, Massachusetts 2009‐2013
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Hours of Service: Who Must Comply?

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.