NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


TRANSPORTATION DEATHS IN U.S. AGAIN TOP 40,000

September 2, 1997

(Washington, D.C.) - Deaths from transportation accidents in the United States totaled 44,525 for calendar year 1996, the National Transportation Safety Board reported today. The overall number, derived from all modes of transportation, showed an increase over the 1995 total of 44,437 fatalities, according to preliminary figures

Highway-related deaths, which account for more than 90 percent of all transportation fatalities, increased by 109, reaching a total of 41,907 for the year.

"It is unfortunate that the number of highway fatalities stubbornly remains at such a tragic and unacceptable level," said NTSB Chairman Jim Hall. "We need a concerted effort by government and law enforcement authorities, industry and the media to remedy this state of affairs." Hall appealed to all Americans to reflect on the grim statistics and exercise the utmost care on the nation's roadways. He also called for the prompt and full implementation of the NTSB's list of "Most Wanted" safety improvements.

The number of persons killed in aviation accidents rose in 1996 to 1,089 from 970 the year before. Scheduled carrier (major airlines and commuters) accident fatalities increased from 177 in 1995 to 394 in 1996. The majority of these fatalities resulted from two accidents: the ValuJet DC-9 crash in Florida on May 11 (110 fatalities) and the TWA B-747 explosion off Long Island, NY on July 17 (230 fatalities). Fourteen people died in a United Express commuter runway collision with a private aircraft on November 19 in Quincy, IL. General aviation fatalities declined to 631 in 1996 from 733 in 1995.

Deaths due to recreational boating accidents showed a decline to 714 in 1996 from 832 the preceding year. Preliminary U.S. Coast Guard data also indicate that there were 29 marine cargo transport deaths last year, down from 41 in 1995, and 26 commercial fishing fatalities, a decrease from 39 a year earlier.

Rail fatalities increased to 740 from 736 in 1995. The largest share of these deaths - 567 - continued to be as a result of persons walking on or near railroad tracks. There were 12 passenger fatalities last year on railroads that report to the Federal Railroad Administration; there were none the previous year. The Federal Transit Administration reported that there were120 fatalities from all types of accidents associated with the operations of light and commuter rail companies, compared to 98 in 1995. Motor vehicle occupants killed in grade crossing accidents totaled 472, down from 579 in 1995.

Pipeline-related deaths totaled 20, against 21 in 1995. (Note: The number of pipeline-related fatalities for 1996 could increase by 33, pending official determination of the probable cause of the explosion in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on November 21, 1996.)

Aviation statistics are compiled by the NTSB. Data on the other modes of transportation are reported to the Board from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The attached table and chart provide a further breakdown of 1996 transportation fatality statistics. All 1996 data are preliminary.

Media Contact: Paul Schlamm
(202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.