NTSB Chair Reports Slight Drop in 2011 Transportation Deaths

Overall transportation fatalities fell from 35,043 in 2010 to 34,434 in 2011, Deborah A.P. Hersman reported. There were no airline fatalities in 2011.

Overall transportation deaths in the United States fell by about 2 percent during 2011 from the previous year, according to preliminary figures recently released by National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. They decreased from 35,043 in 2010 to 34,434 in 2011.

"Transportation accidents remain one of the nation's leading causes of death," she said. "We can do better, which is why the NTSB shines a light on key safety issues each year through the Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements."

The 2011 data also listed 494 aviation fatalities -- 444 in general aviation and 41 in air taxi service, with zero airline deaths occurring domestically during 2011. There were 759 rail deaths during the year, but only six of them were passengers and just 24 were rail employees and contractors. Most (499) were trespassers and nontrespassers hit by trains.

There were 800 marine deaths during 2011, with recreational boating accounting for 758 of them and commercial fishing for only 25 of the total.

Here's the agency's breakdown of highway deaths in 2011:

  • Passenger cars -- 11,981
  • Light trucks and vans -- 9,272
  • Pedestrians -- 4,432
  • Motorcycles -- 4,612
  • Medium and heavy trucks -- 635
  • Buses -- 54
  • Pedalcycles -- 677
  • All other -- 704

Hersman also announced Tracy Murrell, a former chief safety officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., is the new director of NTSB's Office of Marine Safety. Murrell, who holds a U.S. Coast Guard master's license, starts her new job Jan. 22. "Captain Murrell is an accomplished leader with more than 20 years of experience in the maritime safety industry," Hersman said. "I am pleased to welcome such an outstanding mariner, with a proven track record of achieving safety results, to the NTSB team."

Murrell was vice president, marine operations, in the United Kingdom for Royal Caribbean and managed a worldwide fleet of more than a dozen ships with a budget exceeding $53 million and a staff of more than 600. She also served as the company's expert in safety-related legal cases, headed accident and near-miss investigations, wrote reports detailing root-cause analyses and corrective actions, and created and implemented policies and procedures to enhance safety, according to NTSB.

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