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Hersman Announces Slight Rise in 2012 Transportation Fatalities; Aviation, Pipeline and Marine Death

Transportation fatalities in the United States increased by three percent in 2012 from 2011, according to preliminary figures released today by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,531 in 2012, compared to 34,551 in 2011. Although marine, aviation and pipeline, deaths declined, highway and rail fatalities showed an increase.

"We have a serious public health and safety epidemic on our highways," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman. "With our Most Wanted List, the NTSB highlights common-sense solutions to these safety issues that can improve safety and reduce the loss of life on our roads, rails, and waterways and in our skies."

The 2012 statistics show:

  • Deaths on U.S. roadways, which account for nearly 94 percent of all transportation deaths, increased from 32,479 in 2011 to 33,561 in 2012. Highway fatalities increased in all categories except buses, which are down from 55 fatalities in 2011 to 39 in 2012.
  • Railroad deaths also increased six percent from 757 to 803. The vast majority of these fatalities were persons struck by a rail vehicle.
  • Aviation deaths decreased from 498 to 449. Nearly 96 percent of aviation fatalities occurred in general aviation accidents (432), but they still represented a decrease from the previous year (448). In 2012, air taxi fatalities dropped from 41 in 2011 to 15.
  • Marine deaths also dropped in 2012, from 803 to 706. The vast majority of the fatalities, (651), occurred in recreational boating

Aviation statistics are tracked and compiled by the NTSB. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides marine statistics, and the U.S. Department of Transportation provides statistics for all other modes.

Chart of transportation fatalities. Detailed numeric breakdown provided in the table below

2011–2012 U.S. Transportation Fatalities

      2011 2012 1
Highway: Passenger cars   12,014 12,271
  Light trucks and vans   9,302 9,396
  Pedestrians   4,457 4,743
  Motorcycles   4,630 4,957
  Pedalcycles 2   682 726
  Medium and heavy trucks   640 697
  Buses   55 39
  Other 3   699 732
  Total, Highway   32,479 33,561
Grade Crossings: 4     (250) (233)
Rail: Intercity 5M -      
  Trespassers and nontrespassers 6   497 509
  Employees and contractors   24 19
  Passengers   6 5
  Transit 7 -      
  Light, heavy, and commuter rail   230 270
  Total, Rail   757 803
Marine: Recreational boating   758 651
  Cargo transport   10 9
  Commercial fishing 8   27 33
  Commercial passengers   8 13
  Total, Marine   803 706
Aviation: General aviation   448 432
  Airlines   0 0
  Air taxi   41 15
  Commuter   0 0
  Foreign/unregistered 9   9 2
  Total, Aviation   498 449
Pipeline: Gas   13 9
  Liquids   1 3
  Total, Pipeline   14 12
  Total   34,551 35,531

1 Numbers for 2012 are preliminary estimates. Aviation data are from the NTSB; marine data are from the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security; all other data are from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
2 Includes bicycles or other cycles.
3 Includes vehicle non-occupants other than pedestrians and occupant fatalities in other vehicle types, such as farm or construction equipment.
4 Grade crossing fatalities are not counted as a separate category for determining the grand total because they are included in the highway and rail categories, as appropriate.
5 Data reported to Federal Rail Administration (FRA).
6 Includes persons on railroad property without permission (trespassers) and with permission, such as repair personnel (nontrespassers). Does not include motor vehicle occupants killed at grade crossings.
7 Data reported to Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Fatalities for commuter rail operations may also be reported to the FRA and may be included in the intercity railroad fatalities.
8 Refers to operational fatalities.
9 Includes non-U.S. registered aircraft involved in accidents in the United States.

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