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Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2002 Conditions and Performance Report

Chapter 5: Safety Performance

Chapter 5 Table of Contents

Summary

This chapter describes the safety of highway and transit facilities across the United States. It looks at the number of fatalities and injuries from several different perspectives. For highway safety, this chapter examines fatalities and injuries on different functional systems; the causes of highway-related fatalities; fatalities and injuries by different vehicle groups; and the distribution of crashes by age of passengers. For transit safety, this chapter examines injuries and fatalities by mode and passenger miles of travel.

This chapter describes safety statistics. It does not describe the various programs used by the U.S. Department of Transportation and its partners to increase highway and transit safety. These programs are examined comprehensively in Chapter 20.

Exhibit 5-1 compares key data in this chapter with corresponding safety measures in the 1999 Conditions and Performance Report.

    
Exhibit 5-1

HIGHWAY SAFETY 1997 DATA 2000 DATA
1999 REPORT REVISED
Number of Fatalities
42,013
 
41,821
Fatality Rate per 100,000 People
15.69
 
15.23
Fatality Rate per 100 Million VMT
1.6
 
1.5
Number of Injuries
3,348,000
 
3,189,000
Injury Rate per 100,000 People
1,250
 
1,161
Injury Rate per 100 Million VMT
131
 
116
TRANSIT SAFETY
Number of Fatalities
275
 
292
Fatalities per 100 Million PMT
0.73
 
0.69
Number of Injuries
56,535
 
57,457
Injuries per 100 Million PMT
151
 
135
Number of Incidents
62,009
 
60,638
Incidents per 100 Million PMT
165
 
142

Highway fatalities decreased slightly between 1997 and 2000, dropping from 42,013 to 41,821. Although the number of fatalities has fallen sharply since 1966, when Federal legislation first addressed highway safety, there was an increase in the annual number of fatalities between 1994 and 2000. This was largely due to an increase in highway-related fatalities on rural roads.

In 2000, the fatality rate per 100,000 people was 15.23, a decrease from the 1997 fatality rate of 15.69. Similarly, the fatality rate per 100 million VMT dropped from 1.6 in 1997 to 1.5 in 2000. This drop coincided with a significant increase in the number of Vehicle Miles Traveled.

The number of injuries declined from about 3.35 million in 1997 to 3.19 million in 2000. The injury rate per 100,000 people declined from 1,250 in 1997 to 1,161 in 2000, and the injury rate per 100 million VMT dropped from 131 in 1997 to 116 in 2000.

Transitís safety record has continued to improve since 1997. While the total number of fatalities on transit systems increased from 275 in 1997 to 292 in 2000, the fatality rate per 100 million passenger miles traveled (PMT) declined from 0.73 in 1997 to 0.69 in 2000. As with fatalities, total injuries on transit vehicles increased between 1997 and 2000 from 56,535 to 57,457, but the number of injuries per 100 PMT declined from 151 in 1997 to 135 in 2000. Incidents per 100 million PMT declined from 165 to 142 over this same period, and in spite of the increase in transit travel, the total number of incidents declined from 62,009 (1997) to 60,638 (2000).

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