Safety & Compliance

NTSB: Highway Deaths Fall in 2009

October 06, 2010

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Transportation fatalities in the United States decreased by 9.2 percent in 2009 from 2008, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.


The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,928 in 2009, compared to 39,569 in 2008. Although highway, rail and aviation deaths declined, pipeline and marine fatalities showed an increase.

Highway fatalities, which account for nearly 95 percent of all transportation deaths, decreased from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2009. In fact, highway fatalities decreased in all categories including motorcycle fatalities (down 16 percent) which had been on the rise in recent years.

Aviation deaths decreased from 574 to 538. Nearly 90 percent of aviation fatalities occurred in general aviation accidents (471), but they still represented a decrease from the previous year (494).

Rail fatalities decreased 4 percent from 781 to 751. The vast majority of these fatalities were persons struck by a rail vehicle.

"While statistics show that transportation fatalities have declined this past year," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman, "we continue to see far too many accidents in all segments of the transportation community. There is still much work to do to prevent the loss of life on our roads, rails, waterways, and skies."

Pipeline fatalities increased by six (8 to 14), with an increase in both categories - gas pipelines and liquid pipeline operations.

Marine deaths increased from 783 to 817, with the vast majority occurring in recreational boating (736). Other marine categories, including cargo transport and commercial fishing, showed increases as well, although commercial passenger vessels showed a slight decrease.

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