Transportation fatalities in the United States decreased slightly in 2004, according to preliminary figures released this month by the National Transportation Safety Board. Deaths from transportation accidents in the United States in 2004 totaled 44,870, down from the 45,158 fatalities in 2003.
“Although it is always gratifying to see transportation fatalities decline,” NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker said, “the yearly toll, especially on our highways, continues to be unacceptable. We need to do more at all levels — federal, state, and local – to protect our traveling public.”
Highway transportation, which accounts for the largest portion of fatalities, decreased from 42, 884 in 2003 to 42, 636 in 2004. The number of fatalities increased in the motorcycle; light trucks and van; and, medium and heavy trucks categories. However, there was a decrease in the number of deaths occurring in the passenger car category, which recorded 634 fewer fatalities in 2004 than in 2003.
The number of persons killed in all aviation accidents dropped from 710 in 2003 to 651 in 2004. There were no fatalities on commuter carriers in 2004. The number of general aviation fatalities also decreased from 632 in 2003 to 556 in 2004. There were 14 airline fatalities, 13 of which occurred in a crash of a Jetstream aircraft in Kirksville, MO. Air taxi fatalities increased from 42 to 65.
Total rail fatalities increased from 760 in 2003 to 802 in 2004, reflecting a rise in every category except passenger fatalities, which remained at 3. Fatalities occurring on light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail increased from 165 to 186. (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 deaths decreased from 792 to 757 with every category except cargo transportation showing a decrease. Cargo transport fatalities were up from 19 to 25. Recreational boating fatalities, the largest category of marine deaths, decreased from 703 to 676.
Pipeline fatalities increased from 12 to 24, 19 of them related to gas pipelines and five to liquid pipeline operations.
Aviation statistics are compiled by the NTSB. Numbers for all other modes are from the Department of Transportation.
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