Police chases, as exciting as they are in movies, can result in accidents — sometimes fatal ones. The victims can be the perpetrator, an officer, or innocents. According to a report released May 9 by the U.S. Department of Justice, the 68,000 vehicle pursuits by state and local law enforcement agencies conducted in 2012 resulted in 351 fatalities.
The death rate in 2012 from such pursuits is in line with the historical average. The DOJ recorded more than 7,000 fatalities over the 20 years of data reviewed, an average of 355 deaths per year, or just about one death per day. The number of fatalities peaked at more than 400 annual fatalities in 2006 and 2007.
Police chases appear more dangerous in some states than in others. Police pursuits are the most deadly in Alabama, where the police chase-related fatality rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people is highest of all states. In Hawaii, there has only been five deaths related to police chases in the last 20 years, or 0.4 per 100,000 people annually, each the lowest such figure nationwide.