Report: "Vehicle Fires"
Author: Marty Ahrens
Issued: March 2020
An estimated 212,500 vehicle fires caused 560 civilian deaths 1,500 civilian injuries; and $1.9 billion in direct property damage in the US during 2018.
- Vehicle fires caused 4.5 times the number of deaths as nonresidential structure fires and 1.6 times the number of apartment fire deaths.
- The 2018 estimate of highway vehicle fires was 60 percent lower than in 1980, and the rates of fires per billion miles driven and fire deaths per 100 billion miles driven were 81 percent and 65 percent lower, respectively.
- The leading causes of vehicle fires were mechanical failures or malfunctions and electrical failures or malfunctions. Older vehicles accounted for three-quarters of the highway vehicle fires caused by mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions.
- Collisions were the leading cause of vehicle fires that resulted in death.
- Large trucks have a higher rate of deaths per 1,000 fires than highway vehicle fires overall. Tires play a larger role in large truck and bus fires than in car fires.