Using World Health Organization data from 2008 on 193 countries, researchers from the University of Michigan found the world's average rate of road death is 18 deaths per 100,000 people, roughly 2.1 percent of overall deaths. They discovered countries in South America and Africa tended to have higher death rates. Number one in road deaths was the south African country of Namibia at 42 deaths per 100,000 people. Northern Europe, Oceania and Asia had the lowest rates. The Maldives, a tiny nation made up of 26 islands in the Indian Ocean, is particularly safe for drivers with only two road deaths per 100,000.
The U.S. is 97th on the list in worldwide ranking of road deaths. It fared better than average, with only 14 deaths per 100,000 people attributed to a crash. That translates to 30,000 deaths per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fellow industrialized nations however have death rates in the single digits. Canada has only eight road deaths per 100,000 and the United Kingdom only five. Only South Korea, with 16 road deaths per 100,000, had more deaths than the U.S.
Compared to the 30.8 percent of deaths caused by cerebrovascular diseases in the U.S. 1.8 percent killed in car crashes seems miniscule. Road deaths are on the rise in the U.S., however. Data on 2012 road deaths showed a 3.3 percent rise, the first increase in road death mortality since 2005.