Vehicle Fire Safety

U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year (nearly 17% of all reported fires). These fires cause an estimated 480 civilian deaths (more than 12% of all U.S. civilian fire deaths), 1,525 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage annually.

Related Links 

  1. Facts & Figures
  2. If a Fire Occurs
  3. Safety Tips
  4. Service Station Safety
  • Older teens and young adults are age groups at highest risk of highway vehicle fire death.
  • On average, 31 highway vehicle fires were reported per hour. These fires killed one person a day.
  • Ninety-three percent of reported fires and 92% of vehicle fire deaths involved highway-type vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.
  • Three-quarters of highway vehicle fires resulted from mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions. Collisions or overturns caused only 3% of these fires but 58% of the associated deaths.
  • One-third of non-fatal highway vehicle fire injuries occurred when civilians attempted to fight the fire themselves.
    Vehicle maintenance is crucial to preventing vehicle fires. The American Automobile Association offers the following tips:
    • Have your vehicles inspected at least annually by a trained, professional technician.
    • Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation. Have any of these conditions inspected and repaired as soon as possible.
    • Be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle. Have vehicles inspected and repaired as soon as possible if exhaust or emission control problems are suspected.
    • Avoid smoking. If you must smoke, use your vehicle ashtray.
    • Drive according to posted speed limits and other traffic rules. Remain alert to changing road conditions at all times.