Skip navigation

Risk of death and transportation

Clinical bottom line

The lifetime risk of dying in a transport accident is remarkably high - with most of the risk coming from road traffic accidents. While the risk of dying in a road accident in any year in the UK approaches 1 in 20,000, the lifetime risk is 1 in 240.


Data sources

What the sources tell us

There are remarkable differences and similarities. The biggest differences occur between different modes of travel. Rail and plane are much safer in terms of annual and lifetime odds than road when calculated in terms of deaths and total populations.

There are differences between countries and regions of the world, with the UK faring reasonably well on international comparisons of road deaths.

Give us the odds

Table 1 shows the results in terms of annual risk and lifetime risk. Note that these risks are calculated on a population basis, not miles or kilometres travelled, or journeys taken. The numbers change when those other calculations are made.

Table 1: Risk of dying in transportation accident on a population basis


Country

Year

Deaths

Population

Crude rate

per 100,000 population

Annual odds

(1 in )

Lifetime odds

(1 in )

All transport accidents
US 2004
47,385
293,656,842
16.14
6,197
80
UK 2004
3,555
59,834,312
5.94
16,831
229
EU 2004
127
France 2004
5,389
60,643,308
8.89
11,253
151
Germany 2004
6,087
82,501,272
7.38
13,554
185
Spain 2004
5,287
42,691,752
12.38
8,075
115
Ukraine 2004
9,427
47,271,272
19.94
5,014
69
Motor vehicle accidents
US 2005
43,443
281,421,906
15.44
6,478
82
UK 2004
3,389
59,834,312
5.66
17,655
240
France 2004
5,171
60,643,308
8.53
11,728
158
EU 2004
137
Ukraine 2004
7,939
47,271,272
16.79
5,954
82
Pedestrian killed in RTA
US 2005
4,881
281,421,906
1.73
57,657
730
UK 2006
675
58,858,000
1.15
87,197
1104
Cyclist killed in RTA
US 2005
784
281,421,906
0.28
358,957
4544
UK 2006
146
58,858,000
0.25
403,137
5103
Motorcyclist killed in RTA
US 2005
4,398
281,421,906
1.56
63,989
810
UK 2006
599
58,858,000
1.02
98,260
1244
Car user killed in RTA
US 2005
18,440
281,421,906
6.55
15,261
193
UK 2006
1,612
58,858,000
2.74
36,512
462
Passenger airline
US 2003
66
290,809,777
0.02
4,406,209
55078
UK 2006
17
60,023,858
0.03
3,530,815
44135
Worldwide 2006
755
6,548,696,975
0.01
8,673,771
108422
   
755
704,000,000
0.11
932,450
11656
Passenger train
US 2006
2
299,398,484
0.0007
149,699,242
1871241
UK 2005
10
58,858,000
0.02
5,885,800
73573

 

Comment

The lifetime risk of dying in a transport accident is remarkably high - with most of the risk coming from road traffic accidents. While the risk of dying in a road accident in any year in the UK approaches 1 in 20,000, the lifetime risk is 1 in 240. In the Ukraine it is 1 in 80.