U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 152,300 automobile fires per year in 2006-2010. These fires caused an average of 209 civilian deaths, 764 civilian injuries, and $536 million in direct property damage.
Facts and Figures
Automobile fires were involved in 10% of reported U.S. fires, 6% of U.S. fire deaths.
- On average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour. These fires killed an average of four people every week.
Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in roughly two-thirds of the automobile fires.
Collisions and overturns were factors in only 4% of highway vehicle fires, but these incidents accounted for three of every five (60%) automobile fire deaths.
Only 2% of automobile fires began in fuel tanks or fuel lines, but these incidents caused 15% of the automobile fire deaths.
Source: NFPA's "Automobile Fires in the U.S.: 2006-2010 Estimates" report
What to do if your car is on fire
- Pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so, be sure to use your signal as you make your way to a safe location off the road such as the breakdown lane or rest stop.
- Once you have stopped, TURN OFF the engine.
- GET everyone out of the car. Never return to a burning car for anything.
- MOVE everyone at least 100 feet from the burning car and well away from traffic.
- CALL 9-1-1.
How to prevent a car fire
- Have your car serviced regularly by a professionally trained mechanic. If you spot leaks, your car is not running properly, get it checked. A well-maintained car is less likely to have a fire.
- If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small amount in a certified gas can that is sealed. Keep a window open for ventilation.
- Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be transported in the passenger compartment.
- Never park a car where flammables, such as grass, are touching the catalytic converter.
- Drive safely to avoid an accident.
Know the danger signs
- Cracked or loose wiring or electrical problems, including a fuse that blows more than once
- Oil or fluid leaks
- Oil cap not on securely
- Rapid changes in fuel or fluid level, or engine temperature