NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


TRANSPORTATION FATALITIES DROP IN 1998

September 9, 1999

Washington, DC - The number of persons who died in transportation accidents in the United States and its territories dropped in 1998, according to a report released today by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to preliminary figures, deaths from transportation accidents in the United States in 1998 totaled 43,920. The overall number, derived from all modes of transportation, showed a decline from the 1997 total of 44,659 fatalities.

Highway fatalities, accounting for more than 94 percent of the transportation deaths this year, dropped to 41, 480. The number of fatalities decreased in most highway vehicle categories; however, an increase in highway deaths occurred in the category of light trucks and vans, which recorded 503 more fatalities in 1998 than in 1997. Motorcycle fatalities also increased slightly with 126 more fatalities in 1998 than in 1997. "The overall drop in transportation fatalities is encouraging, however, we cannot stop there," NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said. "Highway fatalities continue to account for most transportation fatalities. Transportation safety in all modes is of utmost importance and the Safety Board will continue to make recommendations and push initiatives that will decrease transportation related deaths," Hall said.

The number of persons killed in all aviation accidents dropped from 976 to 683 in 1998. In the commercial airline category, there was one fatal injury reported in 1998, which involved a ground crewman. In the general aviation category the number of fatalities decreased slightly from 646 to 621.

Fatalities involving rail transportation rose from 749 in 1997 to 831 in 1998, with the majority being persons walking along or crossings tracks. A significant portion of the increase is due to fatalities occurring on light rail, heavy rail, or commuter rail, which reported 192 fatalities in 1998, as compared with 105 in 1997. Deaths among train passengers dropped from six to four. (Because of peculiarities in reporting requirements, there may be some duplication in the numbers for intercity rail and commuter rail on the accompanying chart.) Marine deaths decreased only slightly from 911 to 908. Recreational boating fatalities, the largest category of marine deaths, decreased from 821 to 808. Fatalities in marine cargo transportation dropped while commercial fishing had an increase in the numbers of fatalities from 54 in 1997 to 76 in 1998.

Pipeline fatalities almost doubled, from 10 in 1997 to 18 in 1998.

Aviation statistics are compiled by the NTSB. Numbers for all other modes are from the respective Department of Transportation modal agencies.

NTSB Media Contact:
Keith Holloway
(202) 314-6100
hollowk@ntsb.gov  


National Transportation Safety Board U.S. Transportation Fatalities

   

   1997

   19981

Highway:

Passenger cars

22,200

21,240

  Light trucks and vans

10,257

10,760

  Pedestrians

5,321

5,254

  Motorcycles

2,116

2,242

  Pedalcycles

814

794

  Medium and heavy trucks

753

723

  Buses

18

27

  All other

534

440

  Total

42,013

41,480

       

Grade Crossings:2

 

(461)

(431)

       

Rail:

Intercity    
  Trespassers and nontrespassers3

590

601

  Employees and contractors

48

34

  Passengers on trains

6

4

  Light, heavy and commuter rail4-5

105

192

  Total

749

831

       

Marine:

     
  Recreational boating

821

808

  Cargo transport

36

24

  Commercial fishing6

54

76

  Total

911

908

       

Aviation:

General aviation

646

621

  Airlines

8

1

  Air taxi

40

45

  Commuter

46

0

  Foreign / unregistered7

236

16

  Total

976

683

       

Pipeline:

Gas

10

17

  Liquids

0

1

  Total

10

18

       

Grand Total:

 

44,659

43,920

1 1998 figures are preliminary estimates supplied by modal agencies within Department of Transportation.

2 Grade crossing fatalities are not counted as a separate category for determining the grand totals because they are included in the highway and rail categories, as appropriate.

3 Does not include motor vehicle occupants killed at grade crossings.

4 1998 figure includes heavy rail fatalities (54) reported by the Federal Transit Aadministration (FTA). Heavy rail is defined as an electric railway with the capacity for a heavy volumn of traffic. It is characterized by rapid acceleration passenger cars on fixed rails, separate rights of way from all other traffic, sophisticated signalling and high platform loading.

5 Fatalites reported to the FTA for commuter rail operations may also be reported to the Federal Rail Administration and included in the intercity railroad fatalities.

6 Refers to only operational fatalities.

7 Includes non-U.S. registered aircraft involved in accidents in the U.S.


corrected charts inserted 9/14/99
National Transportation Safety Board 43,920 Transportation Fatalities in 1998

Marine Fatalities = 908.

Rail Fatalities = 831.

Aviation Fatalities = 683.

Highway Fatalities = 41,480

 

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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.