National Transportation Safety Board investigators perform onsite and offsite investigations of all accidents involving U.S. registered air carriers operating under 14 CFR 121, 14 CFR 135, and general aviation U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. The investigators compile information on fatalities and injuries for all accidents. The counts for fatalities and serious injuries are expected to be extremely accurate. (See glossary for serious injury definition.)
Exposure data (aircraft-miles, aircraft-hours, and aircraft-departures) are obtained from the FAA, which in turn gets some of its exposure data from the USDOT, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Office of Airline Information (OAI) and other exposure data from its own General Aviation and Air Taxi Activity and Avionics (GAATAA) Survey. The OAI data represent 100 percent reporting by airlines. Tables that include air carriers (14 CFR 121, scheduled and nonscheduled service) and commuter air carriers (14 CFR 135, scheduled service only) use OAI exposure data. Tables that include on-demand air taxi (14 CFR 135, nonscheduled service) and general aviation use GAATAA Survey results. For information about the GAATA Survey, please refer to the chapter 1 data accuracy statement for table 1-9.
The coefficients of variation for aircraft-hours vary by year, but are usually in the 9 to 10 percent range for on-demand air taxi and are approximately 2 percent for general aviation.
Near Midair Collision reports are provided voluntarily by air carriers, general aviation companies, and the military, and this information is added to the Near Midair Collisions System database. Factors that may influence whether or not a near midair collision is reported include the pilots or other crew members perception of whether a reportable near midair collision occurred, which in turn can depend on factors such as visibility conditions; the reporters flying experience; or the size of the aircraft involved. A reportable incident is one in which an aircraft is within 500 feet of another aircraft and a possibility of collision existed.
Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) mandate that passenger screening be performed by each air carrier required to implement an approved security program. The USDOT, Federal Aviation Administration, monitors the records of passenger screening in accordance with FAR, and oversees compliance with the carriers security programs through, for example, scheduled and unscheduled inspections. FAR requires the reporting of information on bomb threats.
Highway fatality data come from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which is compiled by trained FARS analysts at USDOT, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regional offices. Data are gathered from a census of police accident reports (PARs), state vehicle registration files, state drivers licensing files, state highway department data, vital statistics, death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, hospital medical reports, and emergency medical service reports. A separate form is completed for each fatal crash. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is estimated when not known. Statistical procedures used for unknown data in FARS can be found in the NHTSA report A Method for Estimating Posterior BAC Distributions for Persons Involved in Fatal Traffic Accidents, DOT HS 807 094 (Washington, DC: July 1986).
Data are collected from relevant state agencies and electronically submitted for inclusion in the FARs database on a continuous basis. Cross-verification of PARs with death certificates ensures that undercounting is rare. Moreover, when data are entered, they are checked automatically for acceptable range values and consistency, enabling quick corrections when necessary. Several programs continually monitor the data for completeness and accuracy. Periodically, sample cases are analyzed for accuracy and consistency.
Note that the FARS data do not include motor vehicle fatalities on nonpublic roads. However, previous NHTSA analysis found that these fatalities account for 2 percent or fewer of the total motor vehicle fatalities per year. (See glossary for highway fatality definition.)
NHTSAs General Estimates System (GES) data are a nationally representative sample of police-reported crashes that contributed to an injury or fatality or resulted in property damage, and involved at least one motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway. Trained GES data collectors randomly sample PARs and forward copies to a central contractor for coding into a standard GES system format. Documents such as police diagrams or supporting text provided by the officers may be further reviewed to complete a data entry.
NHTSA suggests that about half of motor vehicle crashes in the United States are not reported to police and that the majority of these unreported crashes involve minor property damage and no significant personal injury. A NHTSA study of injuries from motor vehicle crashes estimated the total count of nonfatal injuries at over 5 million compared with the GESs estimate of 3.2 million in 1998. (See glossary for highway crash and injury definitions.)
(See U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts, 1999, DOT HS 809 100 (Washington, DC: December 2000), appendices B and C for further information on GES, including a table of standard errors applicable to GES data.)
The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), conducted biennially between 1994 and 2000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the source for these data.
In 1994 and 1996, NOPUS consisted of three separate studies: 1) the Moving Traffic Study, which provides information on overall shoulder belt use, 2) the Controlled Intersection Study, which provides more detailed information about shoulder belt use by type of vehicle, characteristics of the belt users, and child restraint use, and 3) the Shopping Center Study, which provides information on rear-seat belt use and shoulder belt misuse. In 1998, the Shopping Center Study was dropped from the survey. The Controlled Intersection Study includes the collection of license plate information to link seat belt use to vehicle type. As the results of the Controlled Intersection Study for 2000 were not available prior to publication, only the Moving Traffic Study data were used in this table.
In 1998, NOPUS separated pickups from the light truck category, thereby creating three categories of passenger vehicles: passenger cars, pickup trucks, and other passenger vehicles. Other passenger vehicles include vans, minivans, and sport utility vehicles. In this table, 1998 and 2000 data for pickup trucks and other passenger vehicles are combined into the light truck category to allow comparison to data from the earlier surveys.
In 1994, operators and riders wearing any type of helmet were counted as helmeted. In 1996, 1998, and 2000, motorcycle helmets that meet USDOT standards are counted as valid protection, whereas those that do not meet USDOT standards were treated as if the operator/rider were not wearing a helmet.
Data collection from the Moving Traffic Study was conducted at 2,063 sites across the country. Shoulder belt use was obtained for drivers and right-front passengers only. Three observers (two observers in 1994 and 1996) were stationed for 30 minutes at interstate/highway exit ramps, controlled (intersections with stop signs or traffic signals), and uncontrolled intersections. Every day of the week and all daylight hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) were covered in each survey. Commercial and emergency vehicles were excluded.
NOPUS was designed as a multistage probability sample to ensure that the results would represent occupant protection use in the country. In the first stage, counties were grouped by regions (northeast, midwest, south, west), level of urbanization (metropolitan or not), and level of belt use (high, medium, or low). Fifty counties or groups of counties were selected based on vehicle miles of travel in those locations. In the next stage, roadways were selected from two categories: major roads and local roads. Of the originally selected sites, some were found to be ineligible during mapping and data collection, and at some sites no vehicles were observed. In 2000, a total of 157,694 passenger vehicles were observed: 93,916 passenger cars and 63,778 light trucks (of which 24,747 were pickup trucks and 39,031 were other passenger vehicles). 1,444 motorcycles were also observed during the 2000 NOPUS.
Each reported estimate has been statistically weighted according to the sample design. Two kinds of error can be attributed to all survey research: sampling and nonsampling. A measure, called the standard error, is used to indicate the magnitude of sampling error. The source information provides two standard errors along with each estimate. Nonsampling errors could include problems such as vehicles not counted, incorrect determination of restraint use, and data entry mistakes, among others.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses data obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to calculate the number of lives saved by the use of restraints. The methodology used is outlined in a NHTSA report, Research Note, Estimating Lives Saved by Restraint Use in Potentially Fatal Crashes (Washington, DC: June 1995). The general approach is to adjust the observed number of fatalities by a determined effectiveness rate for each type of restraint. This equates to subtracting the actual fatalities from the potential fatalities to determine the number of lives saved. This method is more accurate than earlier estimation methods since all calculations are derived from NHTSAs count of fatalities in which restraints were used. Reported restraint use is believed to be accurate for fatalities.
The key to NHTSAs calculations is the effectiveness estimate for preventing fatalities for each type of restraint. With the exception of an adjustment in the effectiveness estimate for front outboard air bag-only restraint use in passenger cars (NHTSA, Fourth Report to Congress, Effectiveness of Occupant Protection Systems and Their Use, Washington, DC, May 1999), a list of effectiveness estimates can be found in a NHTSA report, Estimating Alcohol Involvement in Fatal Crashes in Light of Increases in Restraint Use, published in March 1998.This report also includes additional references describing the determination of these effectiveness estimates.
The data for this report are obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration's (FTA's) National Transit Database (NTD) Reporting System. Transit agencies are required to file an NTD report at regular intervals if they are recipients of Urbanized Area Formula Funds. In 1999, 587 agencies reported to the NTD. Of that total, 64 transit agencies received exemptions from detailed reporting because they operated 9 or fewer vehicles, and 7 were deleted because their data were incomplete. Thus, 516 individual reporters were included in the NTD, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of passenger-miles traveled on transit. Of the transit agencies reporting, 56.5 percent contract for some or all of their transportation from private or public companies or organizations.
Transit operators report fatalities, injuries, accidents, incidents, and property damage in excess of $1,000. Electronic reporting has recently been implemented for the NTD. Certification from a companys Chief Executive Officer must accompany all NTD reports along with an independent auditors statement. Upon receipt, an NTD report is reviewed and outstanding items noted in writing to the agency that submitted the form. (See glossary for transit fatality, injury, and accident definitions.)
Four major categories of transit safety are collected: 1) collisions, 2) derailments/buses going off the road, 3) personal casualties, and 4) fires. These major categories are divided into subcategories. The collisions category comprises collisions with vehicles, objects, and people (except suicides). Of the four major categories, only the first two are included in the definition of transit accidents adopted in this report (see glossary). Understanding this definition of accident is relevant to understanding how double counting is removed in the grand total of U.S. transportation fatalities and injuries. (See cross modal comments in box 2-1.)
Transit data submitted to the NTD are generally considered accurate because the FTA reviews and validates information submitted by individual transit agencies. However, reliability may vary because some transit agencies cannot obtain accurate information or misinterpret data.
FTA collects security data from transit agencies serving urbanized areas of over 200,000 in population, using Form 405, and manages it in the National Transit Database (NTD). The reporting of security data follows the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook (Washington, DC: 1984) and is divided into two categories: 1) Reported Offenses, including violent and property crime, and 2) Arrests, consisting of less serious crimes. The figures for violent and property crime are based on records of calls for service, complaints, and/or investigations. They do not reflect the findings of a court, coroner, jury, or decision of a prosecutor. Security data were first reported in 1995 and were not compiled for earlier years.
In 1998, the number of agencies reporting to this database was 575.Of that, 60 transit agencies received exemptions from detailed reporting because they operated nine or fewer vehicles, and six were deleted because their data were incomplete. Thus, 509 individual reporters are included in the full database in 1998.Of the transit agencies reporting, 56.2 percent contract for some or all of their transportation from private or public companies or organizations.
Railroads are required to file a report for each train accident resulting in property damage in excess of $6,600, each highway-rail accident, and each incident involving the operation of a railroad resulting in a fatality or a reportable injury. (See glossary for reportable injury, train accident and incident, and nontrain incident definitions.)
Reporting requirements, which are fixed in law, are very broad and encompass events not strictly related to transportation. For example, if a passenger falls on a staircase and breaks a leg in the station while going to a train, the injury would be reported and appear in the data as a rail injury.
U.S. waterborne fatality and injury data are based on reports required by CFR Part 4.05-10. This code requires that the owner, agent, master, operator, or person in charge file a written report of any marine casualty or accident within five days of the accident. Reports must be delivered to Investigative Officers (IOs) at a U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office or Marine Inspection Office at the U.S. Department of Transportation, who use these reports as guides to investigate the marine casualty or accident. The IO ensures that all the entries on the forms are filled out and errors are corrected. Regulations require IO notification of marine casualties for certain circumstances, including loss of life; injuries that require medical treatment beyond first aid; and, for individuals engaged or employed onboard a vessel in commercial service, injuries that render a person unfit to perform routine duties.
Incidents requiring an investigation include death, injury resulting in substantial impairment, and other incidents determined important to promoting the safety of life or property or to protect the marine environment. These incidents are investigated in accordance with procedures set forth in the regulations. Furthermore, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act mandates that certain incidents be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard. The reports are entered into the Marine Safety Information System, which is later analyzed and transferred to the Marine Safety Management System maintained in Washington, DC.
Operators of boats involved in an accident resulting in 1) a fatality, 2) an injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid, 3) damage to the vessel or other property greater than $500 or complete loss of vessel, or 4) the disappearance of a person from the vessel under circumstances indicating death or injury are required to file a report with the U.S. Coast Guard. If a person dies within 24 hours of the occurrence, requires medical treatment beyond first aid, or disappears from the vessel, reports must be made within 48 hours of the occurrence. In cases involving only damage to the vessel and/or property, reports are to be submitted within 10 days of the occurrence. Although there is no quantitative estimate of the response rate, there may be considerable underreporting, especially of nonfatal accidents, because of the difficulty of enforcing the requirement and because boat operators may not always be aware of the law.
U.S. fatality and injury data for natural gas pipelines are based on reports filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS). Accidents must be reported as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after discovery. Reports are sent to the Information Systems Manager at the OPS. Possible sources of error include a release going undetected; even if subsequently detected and reported, it may not be possible to accurately reconstruct the accident. Property damage figures are estimates. (See glossary for gas and liquid pipeline fatality data and injury definitions.)
Incidents resulting in certain unintentional releases of hazardous materials must be reported under 49 CFR 171.16.Each carrier must submit a report to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) within 30 days of the incident, including information on the mode of transportation involved, results of the incident, and a narrative description of the accident. These reports are made available on the incident database within 60 days of receipt.
Fatalities and injuries are counted only if they are directly due to a hazardous material. For example, a truck operator killed by impact forces during a motor vehicle crash would not be counted as a hazardous-material fatality. RSPA verifies all reported fatalities and injuries by telephone with the carrier submitting the report.
Possible sources of error include a release going undetected; even if subsequently detected and reported, it may not be possible to accurately reconstruct the accident. Although RSPA acknowledges that there is some level of underreporting, it believes that the underreporting is limited to small, nonserious incidents. As incident severity increases, it is more likely that the incident will come to RSPAs attention and will ultimately be reported. Additionally, the reporting requirements were extended to intrastate highway carriers on October 1, 1998, and the response rate from this new group is expected to increase over time. Property damage figures are estimates determined by the carrier prior to the 30-day reporting deadline and are generally not subsequently updated. Property damage figures, therefore, may underestimate actual damages.