Transportation fatalities in the United States increased by three percent in 2012 from 2011, according to preliminary figures released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,531 in 2012, compared to 34,551 in 2011. Although marine, aviation and pipeline deaths declined, highway and rail fatalities showed an increase.

"We have a serious public health and safety epidemic on our highways," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman. "With our Most Wanted List, the NTSB highlights common-sense solutions to these safety issues that can improve safety and reduce the loss of life on our roads, rails, and waterways and in our skies."

The 2012 statistics show:

Deaths on U.S. roadways, which account for nearly 94 percent of all transportation deaths, increased from 32,479 in 2011 to 33,561 in 2012. Highway fatalities increased in all categories except buses, which are down from 55 fatalities in 2011 to 39 in 2012.

Railroad deaths also increased six percent from 757 to 803. The vast majority of these fatalities were persons struck by a rail vehicle.

Aviation deaths decreased from 498 to 449. Nearly 96 percent of aviation fatalities occurred in general aviation accidents (432), but they still represented a decrease from the previous year (448). In 2012, air taxi fatalities dropped from 41 in 2011 to 15.

Marine deaths also dropped in 2012, from 803 to 706. The vast majority of the fatalities, (651), occurred in recreational boating

Aviation statistics are tracked and compiled by the NTSB. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides marine statistics, and the U.S. Department of Transportation provides statistics for all other modes. 

2011-2012 U.S. Transportation Fatalities


   2011 20121 
Highway:Passenger cars 12,01412,271
 Light trucks and vans 9,3029,396
 Pedestrians 4,4574,743
 Motorcycles 4,6304,957
 Pedalcycles 2  682726
 Medium and heavy trucks 640697
 Buses 5539
 Other 3  699732
 Total, Highway 32,47933,561
Grade Crossings: 4   (250)(233)
Rail:Intercity 5M -    
 Trespassers and nontrespassers 6  497509
 Employees and contractors 2419
 Passengers 65
 Transit 7 -   
 Light, heavy, and commuter rail 230270
 Total, Rail 757 803 
Marine:Recreational boating 758651
 Cargo transport 109
 Commercial fishing 8  2733
 Commercial passengers 813
 Total, Marine 803706
Aviation:General aviation 448432
 Airlines 00
 Air taxi 4115
 Commuter 00
 Foreign/unregistered 9  92
 Total, Aviation 498449
Pipeline:Gas 139
 Liquids 13
 Total, Pipeline 1412
 Total 34,551 35,531 

1 Numbers for 2012 are preliminary estimates. Aviation data are from the NTSB; marine data are from the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security; all other data are from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
2 Includes bicycles or other cycles.
3 Includes vehicle non-occupants other than pedestrians and occupant fatalities in other vehicle types, such as farm or construction equipment.
4 Grade crossing fatalities are not counted as a separate category for determining the grand total because they are included in the highway and rail categories, as appropriate.
5 Data reported to Federal Rail Administration (FRA).
6 Includes persons on railroad property without permission (trespassers) and with permission, such as repair personnel (nontrespassers). Does not include motor vehicle occupants killed at grade crossings.
7 Data reported to Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Fatalities for commuter rail operations may also be reported to the FRA and may be included in the intercity railroad fatalities.
8 Refers to operational fatalities.
9 Includes non-U.S. registered aircraft involved in accidents in the United States.