NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


September 3, 2004

(see related items below)

Transportation fatalities in the United States decreased in 2003. Preliminary figures released today by the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that 44,888 overall transportation fatalities were reported in 2003, down from 45,311 fatalities reported in 2002 statistics. “I am very pleased to see the decrease in transportation fatalities,” said NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners, “but until that number is zero there is still work to be done.”

The largest portion of the decrease comes in highway transportation where fatalities declined from 43,005 in 2002 to 42,643 in 2003. Deaths in passenger cars decreased by 1,109; however the reduction was offset by increased fatalities in light trucks and vans, motorcycles, and medium and heavy trucks.

Aviation is the only transportation mode that showed no decrease in any subcategory. The total number of people killed in aviation accidents climbed from 625 in 2002 to 707 in 2003. General aviation accidents showed the largest increase in the aviation area increasing, from 581 to 626. Fatalities in air taxi operations increased from 35 in 2002 to 45 in 2003. Scheduled passenger carriers had 22 fatalities in 2003. Twenty-one of the fatalities occurred aboard a turboprop airliner that crashed on takeoff at Charlotte, North Carolina. One fatality occurred when an aircraft struck a tug operator in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2002 there were no fatalities on scheduled passenger carriers.

Total rail fatalities decreased from 861 to 767 with every category showing improvement. Two rail passengers were killed in 2003 compared to 7 passengers in 2002. Fatalities at grade crossings also decreased from 357 to 329. In 2002 light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail reported 220 fatalities. In 2003 the number dropped to 173. (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 fatalities overall decreased from 809 to 759 with every area except commercial passengers showing a decrease. Commercial passenger fatalities were up from 9 in 2002 to 16 in 2003.

Pipeline fatalities increased slightly overall from 11 to 12, all in the gas pipeline category. There were no fatalities in the liquid pipeline category.

The NTSB compiles the aviation fatality statistics. Statistics for all other modes are compiled by the Department of Transportation.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

Related Items:    Table and Chart      Chart Only [PDF]     Aviation Statistics



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.