Real Numbers: Past Progress, Future Problems


by

Real Numbers

Past Progress, Future Problems

Fatalities by Transportation Mode

Mode 1970 1980 1990 1995 1998
Large air carrier 146 1 39 168 1
Commuter air N 37 7 9 0
On-demand air taxi N 105 50 52 45
General aviation 1,310 1,239 765 734 621
Highwaya 52,627 51,091 44,599 41,817 41,171
Railroadb 785 584 599 567 577
Transitc N N 339 274 U
Waterborne
  Vessel casualties 178 206 85 46 31
  Nonvessel casualties 420 281 101 137 76
Recreational boating 1,418 1,360 865 829 813
Gas and hazardous
liquid pipeline 30 19 9 21 18

a Includes occupants, nonoccupants, and motor vehicle fatalities at railroad crossings.

b Includes fatalities from nontrain incidents, as well as train incidents and accidents. Also includes train occupants and nonoccupants, except motor vehicle occupants at grade crossings.

c Fatalities resulting from all reportable incidents, no just accidents. Includes commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, motor bus, demand responsive, van pool, and automated guideway.

Key: N = data do not exist or are not cited because of reporting changes; P = preliminary; U = unavailable.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Statistics Annual Report 1999, BTS99-03 (Washington, DC: 1999), table 4-1.

No other mode of transportation comes close to the automobile as a cause of death and injury.

Injuries by Transportation Mode

Mode 1970 1980 1990 1995 1998
Air carriera 107 19 R29 25 28
Commuter carriera N 14 11 25 2
On-demand air taxia N 43 36 14 11
General aviationa 715 R681 R402 395 332
Highwayb N N 3,231,000 3,465,000 3,192,000
Railroadc 17,934 58,696 22,736 12,546 10,156
Transitd N N 54,556 57,196 U
Waterborne
  Vessel casualties 105 180 175 145 83
  Nonvessel casualties U U U 1,916 357
Recreational boating 780 2,650 3,822 4,141 4,613
Gas and liquid pipeline 254 192 76 64 75

a Injuries classified as serious. See glossary.

b Includes passenger car occupants, motorcyclists, light-duty and large trucks, bus occupants, pedestrians, pedalcyclists, occupants of unknown vehicle types, and other nonmotorists..

c Injuries resulting from train accidents, train and nontrain incidents, and occupational illness. Includes Amtrak.

d Injuries resulting from all reportable incidents, not just from accidents. Includes commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, motor bus, demand responsive, van pool, and automated guideway.

Key: N = data do not exist; P = preliminary; R = revised; U = unavailable.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 1999, (Washington, DC: 1999), table 4-1.

In driving it does not take two to tangle. About half of fatal accidents involve only one vehicle.

Total Fatalities in Traffic Crashes: 1998

Drivers/occupants killed in single-vehicle crashes 15,724
Pedestrians killed in single-vehicle crashes 4,795
Pedalcyclists killed in single-vehicle crashes 737
  Subtotal 21,256
Drivers/occupants killed in 2-vehicle crashes 16,671
Drivers/occupants killed in more than two-vehicle crashes 2,964
Pedestrians/pedalcyclists killed in multiple-vehicle crashes 449
Others/unknown 131
Total fatalities 41,471

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems Database; USDOT, NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts 1998 (Washington, DC: October 1999).

The rate of fatalities among elderly drivers is high not because they are in more accidents but because they are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when they are in an accident.

Although driving is becoming safer per mile travelled in the United States, it can be extremely dangerous in developing countries. With the rapid growth of automobile travel in these countries, we can expect a dramatic increase in the global total of highway deaths.

Various rates for a number of countries

Country Vehicles per
1000 people
Deaths per
1000 people
Deaths per
million pop.
Deaths
per year
Data
year
USA 777 0.21 158 41,907 1996
Australia 566 0.18 99 1,742 1992
France 522 0.28 145 8,412 1995
Japan 520 0.16 85 10,649 1994
Great Britain 478 0.13 62 3,621 1995
Sweden 450 0.13 61 537 1996
Portugal 448 0.47 221 2,100 1996
Spain 441 0.33 147 5,751 1995
Ireland 327 0.37 122 431 1993
Israel 257 0.39 101 550 1995
Saudi Arabia 138 1.63 224 4,077 1994
Turkey 111 0.75 84 5,347 1996
Brazil 89 1.89 169 25,000 1991
Thailand 48 5.33 255 15,176 1994
Morocco 43 2.99 129 3,359 1993
Algeria 33 4.23 140 3,678 1993
India 25 2.75 67 59,300 1993
China 19 2.72 53 63,508 1993
Kenya 15 7.13 108 2,516 1993
Lesotho 13 13.74 172 326 1993
Ethiopia 1 17.20 23 1,169 1990

Source: Evans, Leonard, Transportation Safety. In Handbook of Transportation Science, R.W. Hall Editor, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA, 1999. pp. 63-108.

Cite this Article

"Real Numbers: Past Progress, Future Problems." Issues in Science and Technology 17, no. 2 (Winter 2001).