Louisville, KY Road Safety Overview

Louisville, KY Road Safety Overview

Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, was recently recognized as one of the top 10 cities in the United States where drivers are most likely to experience a car accident. According to this study, which used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, individuals were more likely to get into a car accident in Louisville than in Los Angeles.

As part of its Vision Zero initiative, the Louisville government aims to eliminate traffic-related fatalities by 2050 and has released several statistics to demonstrate the current state of affairs of the city’s roads.

Car Accident Statistics Louisville Drivers Should Know

According to Vision Zero Louisville’s 2022 report, a total of 128 individuals were killed on Louisville-area roads in 2022 — a slight increase from the 124 people killed in 2021 and a significant increase from the 76 killed in 2018. Additionally, 523 people were seriously injured in 2022 accidents, an increase from 2021 (487 people) and 2020 (472 people).

The report also indicated that the overall rate of serious injuries and fatalities has begun to increase in recent years. In 2018, the fatality rate was 1.04 per 100 million vehicles, and the serious injury rate was 6.54. However, by 2021, the fatality rate had increased to 1.81, and the serious injury rate had risen to 7.43.

Location of Fatality and Serious Injury Accidents in Louisville, KY

You might think expressways and interstates are more dangerous than surface roads, but the statistics paint a different picture. According to Vision Zero Louisville, nearly 75% of the city’s traffic fatalities occurred on surface roads instead of interstates and expressways.

Of all fatalities and serious injuries that occurred on surface roads: 

  • 43% happened on major arterial roads that feed traffic to and from expressways
  • 35% happened on minor arterial roads 
  • 12% occurred on primary or secondary collector roads
  • 10% of incidents involving a fatality or serious injury occurred on local roads

In seven out of ten fatalities or serious injuries, the State of Kentucky owned the roadway where the accident occurred. The City of Louisville owned the road in about 29% of cases, and some other entity owned the roadway in the remaining cases.

Modes of Transportation in Louisville

According to Vision Zero Louisville, out of all recorded incidents that resulted in a serious injury or death, 66% of victims were killed while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Another 16% were riding motorcycles, and 14% were on foot at the time of their accident. Only 4% of individuals seriously hurt or killed were riding bicycles.

Causes of Louisville Motor Vehicle Accidents

Many vehicle wrecks in Louisville and throughout Kentucky result from negligent or careless driving behaviors. According to the 2020 Kentucky Traffic Collision Facts (KTCF) report produced by the Kentucky Transportation Center, the most common examples of negligence leading to car accidents include:

Driver Inattention

Drivers who were not paying attention to the road contributed to about 35% of all traffic collisions and 18% of all fatal wrecks in Kentucky. This included motorists who were distracted by their thoughts or a roadside sight, looking for something in their car, or adjusting their radio while driving. By taking their attention off the road, these drivers decreased the amount of time they had to avoid an accident.

Failure To Control Vehicles

Next, motorists who were not safely controlling their vehicles were a factor in 14.33% of all crashes. There are a number of reasons why a driver might lose control of their vehicle, including aggressive steering, poor grip on the steering wheel, or other unsafe driving behaviors. 

In 2020, 31% of all fatal accidents were either partly or wholly to blame on drivers who lost control of their vehicles.

Failure To Yield the Right of Way

Right-of-way laws tell drivers which party has the legal authority to proceed when multiple parties meet on the roads. If a party does not have the right of way, they must wait until they do before they can continue.

When one driver fails to yield the right of way, it can result in confusion and chaos on the road as people are caught off-guard, leaving little time to react and avoid a collision. This means that motorists who do not yield the right of way can strike and severely hurt individuals.

According to the 2020 KTCF report, failing to yield the right of way played a role in over 10% of all accidents and 8.52% of fatal collisions in Kentucky.

Alcohol and Drug Impairment

Both alcohol and drug use impair a driver’s judgment, perception, and reflexes. A driver using these substances is not able to perceive hazards and obstacles as quickly as a sober driver, and they are less likely to make a rational decision on how best to avoid them.

Drivers who were under the influence of alcohol accounted only for about 3.5% of all Kentucky collisions in 2020. However, alcohol involvement played a role in over 14% of fatal accidents. Similarly, drug-impaired drivers were responsible for only about 2% of all traffic wrecks but contributed to about one out of every ten fatal crashes.

This means that while crashes can happen for many other reasons besides alcohol and drugs, the presence of alcohol or other mind-altering drugs greatly increases the chance of death.


Finally, speeding was a factor in only about one out of every 100 traffic accidents throughout Kentucky in 2020. Nevertheless, excessive speed was a factor in 15% of fatality accidents in which at least one person lost their life.

Speeding makes it more difficult to control your vehicle safely and increases the force with which your vehicle collides with other objects. This makes speeding drivers more likely to cause or sustain severe or fatal injuries than those who are traveling at a more moderate speed.

Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility in Louisville, KY

Motorists bear responsibility for the bulk of fatalities and serious injury accidents on Louisville’s roads. However, to reach the city’s ambitious goal of zero fatalities, all individuals who use Louisville’s roads should pay attention to their actions and behaviors. Many of the city’s fatalities and serious injury accidents can be avoided if people exercise greater care.