NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


TRANSPORTATION FATALITIES HOLD STEADY IN 1997;
HIGHWAY DEATHS HIT 42,000, NTSB REPORTS

August 10, 1998

WASHINGTON, D.C. The number of persons who died in transportation accidents in the United States and its territories remained virtually steady between 1996 and 1997, according to preliminary statistics released today by the National Transportation Safety Board. Total transportation fatalities, in all modes, were 44,619 in 1996, compared to 44,603 last year.

Highway fatalities accounted for more than 94 percent of the transportation deaths (42,000) in 1997.

"It is encouraging that transportation fatalities did not rise in 1997, even though more and more people are traveling every year," NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said. "However, highway deaths, among the more preventable in transportation, continue to account for most transportation fatalities, emphasizing the importance of Safety Board initiatives in drunk driving, seat belt and graduated licensing legislation."

The largest increase in highway deaths occurred in the category of light trucks and vans, which experienced 422 more fatalities in 1997 than in 1996. This continues a five-year trend in which this category has accounted for a larger share of highway deaths each year, from 21 percent in 1993 to 25 percent last year. Passenger car fatalities have remained at about 54 percent each year.

The number of persons killed in aviation accidents dropped from 1,093 in 1996 to 976 in 1997, despite a large increase involving aircraft not registered in the United States. The 236 deaths in that category, compared with just 5 in 1996, are mostly attributable to the 228 persons who died aboard a Korean Air Boeing 747 that crashed in Guam in August. While general aviation fatalities increased from 631 to 646, airline deaths fell from 380 in 1996 the year of the ValuJet and TWA flight 800 accidents to 8 in 1997.

Fatalities involving rail transportation fell from 752 to 746 in 1997, with the vast majority (584) being persons walking along or crossing tracks. Deaths among train passengers dropped from 12 to 6.

Marine deaths increased from 814 to 870, due to an increase in recreational boating fatalities of almost 100. Fatalities in marine cargo transportation and commercial fishing declined.

Pipeline fatalities fell from 53 in 1996 (33 of them in one accident in Puerto Rico) to 11 in 1997.

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 1997 data are preliminary.

 

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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.