Transportation Fatalities Drop in 2009; Pipeline, Marine Deaths Rise

Transportation fatalities in the United States decreased by 9.2 percent in 2009 from 2008, according to preliminary figures released recently by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,928 in 2009, compared to 39,569 in 2008. Although highway, rail, aviation, deaths declined, pipeline, and marine fatalities showed an increase.

"While statistics show that transportation fatalities have declined this past year, we continue to see far too many accidents in all segments of the transportation community,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman. “There is still much work to do to prevent the loss of life on our roads, rails, waterways, and skies."

Pipeline fatalities increased by six (eight to 14), with an increase in both categories—gas pipelines and liquid pipeline operations.

Marine deaths increased from 783 to 817, with the vast majority occurring in recreational boating (736). Other marine categories, including cargo transport and commercial fishing, showed increases as well, although commercial passenger vessels showed a slight decrease.

Highway fatalities, which account for nearly 95 percent of all transportation deaths, decreased from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2009. In fact, highway fatalities decreased in all categories including motorcycle fatalities (down 16 percent) which had been on the rise in recent years.

Aviation deaths decreased from 574 to 538. Nearly 90 percent of aviation fatalities occurred in general aviation accidents (471), but they still represented a decrease from the previous year (494).

Rail fatalities decreased four percent from 781 to 751. The vast majority of these fatalities were persons struck by a rail vehicle.

Aviation statistics are compiled by NTSB. Marine numbers are provided by the Department of Homeland Security, and numbers for all other modes by the Department of Transportation.

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