U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2002 Conditions and Performance Report
Part I: Description of Current System
Part II: Investment Performance Analyses
Part III: Bridges
Part IV: Special Topics
Part V: Supplemental Analyses of System Components
Safety is the top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Safety Strategic Goal in the Department's 2003 Performance Plan aims
to "promote the public health and safety by working toward the elimination
of transportation-related deaths and injuries."
The injury rate has also declined in recent years, as detailed in the exhibit below. In 1988, the rate was 169 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled; by 2000, that rate had dropped to 116. While significant, the declining injury rate falls short of the Performance Plan goal of 113 per 100 million vehicle miles.
Alcohol impairment is a leading cause of crashes and a serious public safety problem in the United States. In 2000, alcohol was involved in 40 percent of fatal crashes and 8 percent of all crashes.
There are three main groups involved in alcohol-impaired driving:
While the number of overall highway fatalities and injuries has decreased in recent years, this is not uniformly true for all vehicle groups. The number of occupants killed in passenger cars, for instance, decreased from 21,566 in 1993 to 20,492 in 2000. In contrast, the number of occupants killed in light and large trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles all increased during this period.
Public transit in the
United States has been and continues to be a highly safe mode of transportation
as evidenced by the decrease in incidents, injuries, and fatalities reported
by transit service providers for the vehicles they operate directly. (They
exclude occurrences on contracted transportation).
In absolute terms, incidents were 36 percent lower in 2000 than in 1990, injuries 7 percent higher, and fatalities 11 percent lower. When adjusted for changes in the level of transit usage, incidents per 100 million passenger miles traveled (PMT) fell from 251 in 1990 to 142 in 2000-a decrease of 45 percent. Injuries per 100 million PMT fell from 148 to 135, a decrease of 9 percent; and fatalities declined from .89 to .69, a decrease of 25 percent. Transit vehicles that travel by road have higher incident and injury rates than those that travel on fixed guideways. Incident and injury rates have consistently been the highest for demand response vehicles with widely fluctuating fatality rates often well above those for other types of transit services. Buses, likewise, have consistently had incident and injury rates above rail transit modes, but unlike demand response vehicles, buses rank among the lowest in fatality rates. Commuter rail, by contrast, has had the lowest incident and injury rates.
Fatality rates for light rail have, on average, been higher and shown considerably more year-to-year variation over the past decade than commuter and heavy rail.