Chapter 1 - Summary

Chapter 1 - Summary

Eastern Market Metrorail Station in Washington, DC.

Eastern Market Metrorail Station in Washington, DC.


This seventh Transportation Statistics Annual Report (TSAR) provides the reader with a broad array of information on the U.S. transportation system: its extent and condition, relationship to the nation's economic growth and national security, safety aspects, reliance on energy, environmental impacts, and contribution to mobility and accessibility.

Transportation System Extent and Condition

As the fourth largest country in land area, the United States has over 4 million miles of highways, railroads, and waterways that connect all parts of the country. It also has 19,000 public and private airports and over 400,000 miles of oil and gas transmission pipelines.

Luggage carousel at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC.

Luggage carousel at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, DC.

. There were 220 million vehicles in the nation's highway fleet in 1999, 22 million more than a decade earlier.

. Revenue vehicle-miles of transit grew by nearly 30 percent between 1991 and 1999, to over 3 billion miles.

. The number of aircraft operated by air carriers increased by more than 30 percent between 1990 and 1999.

. High-speed rail service improvements were made in the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and Boston in 2000.

. More than 41,000 U.S.-flag vessels were available for service in U.S. maritime trade as of December 1999.

. The condition of the nation's airport runways, roads, and bridges has generally improved in the last decade.


Car crash testing - passenger car crashing into wall.

Car crash testing - passenger car crashing into wall.

Reducing transportation-related deaths, injuries, and property damage is a key goal of the transportation community. While much progress has been made in reducing the number of deaths, these numbers remain high. Crashes and incidents involving transportation vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and pipelines claimed nearly 44,000 lives in 1999 and injured more than 3 million people.

. Motor vehicle collisions account for about 95 percent of transportation-related deaths.

. Transportation incidents ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 1998, but motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 6 and 27.

. Alcohol-related fatalities fell from 57 percent of all highway fatalities in 1982 to 38 percent in 1999, but still killed nearly 15,787 people in 1999. (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2000 early assessment estimates the death toll at 16,068.)

. Sport utility vehicles have the highest rollover rate of any vehicle in fatal crashes.

. More than 14 million tires were judged prone to tread separation and recalled in 2000.

. Of the 5,656 bicycle and pedestrian fatalities involving motor vehicles in 1999, 60 percent of them occurred in urban areas.

. Commercial aviation accidents claimed the lives of 92 people in 2000 while 592 people were killed in general aviation accidents.

. Most commercial maritime fatalities in 2000 involved fishing vessels.

. The fatality rate per million train-miles decreased 40 percent between 1993 and 1999.

. Transportation's share of occupational fatalities increased from 40 percent in 1992 to 44 percent in 1998.

Mobility and Access to Transportation

MARC train at Camden Yards Station in Baltimore, MD.

MARC train at Camden Yards Station in Baltimore, MD.

The transportation system enables people and businesses to overcome the distance between places. For travelers, this includes having easy access to modes of transportation that will get them between home and work, from store to store, and off on vacation. Businesses need to move both people and goods, increasingly worldwide.

. About 4.6 trillion passenger-miles of travel occurred in 1999, an annual increase of 2 percent since 1990.

. There were over 3.8 trillion ton-miles of domestic freight shipments in 1999, representing an annual growth of 2 percent since 1990.

. Annual vehicle-miles of travel in the United States rose by nearly 30 percent between 1989 and 1999 to almost 2.7 trillion miles.

. International overnight travel to the United States increased by 33 percent while the number of U.S. residents traveling out of the country rose 44 percent between 1989 and 1999.

. Light truck travel increased from 14 percent of all passenger-miles of travel in 1975 to 31 percent in 1999.

. One in four flights by major U.S. air carriers arrived late or were diverted or canceled in 2000.

. Air freight, the fastest growing shipment mode, increased 52 percent in value between 1993 and 1997.

. The U.S. waterborne container trade balance has shifted more toward imports by a gap of 4 million 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in 1999, up from a gap of 1 million TEUs in 1993.

Economic Growth

Containers loaded on ship at the Port of Miami, FL.

Containers loaded on ship at the Port of Miami, FL.

Transportation is a vital component of the U.S. economy. As a sizable element of the country's Gross Domestic Product, transportation employs millions of people and consumes a large amount of the economy's goods and services.

. Demand for transportation-related goods and services represents about 11 percent of the U.S. economy and supports one in eight jobs.

. In-house transportation contributed $142 billion to the economy compared with $236 billion by the for-hire sector in 1996.

. Households spent an average of $7,000 on transportation in 1999, nearly 20 percent of their income and second only to the amount they spent on housing.

. U.S. international merchandise trade rose 10.3 percent to $1.7 trillion between 1997 and 1999, with Canada retaining its status as our top trading partner.

. Most transportation modes showed much higher productivity growth between 1955 and 1998 than did the U.S. business sector.

. Average gasoline motor fuel prices increased 59 percent between January 1999 and July 2000, but did not make a major impact on fuel consumption.

. The value of highway capital stock increased by 19.4 percent between 1988 and 1999.

Energy and the Environment

Busy arterial street in Washington, DC.

Busy arterial street in Washington, DC.

The many benefits of transportation are tempered by its environmental impacts. The sector's dependence on fossil fuels is at the root of many problems. However, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure and facilities, refining of fuels, and vehicle manufacturing, maintenance, and disposal also affect the environment.

. Transportation sector energy use has grown at 1.5 percent annually for the last two decades and in 1999 accounted for two-thirds of petroleum fuel demand.

. The average fuel efficiency of each year's new car fleet has not changed from 28.8 miles per gallon since 1988.

. The transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide have risen 14.9 percent since 1990.

. While most transportation air pollutant emissions have declined since 1970, emissions of nitrogen oxides have not.

. The percentage of the U.S. population exposed to excessive aircraft noise has been cut in half since 1992 but an estimated 680,000 people are still affected.

. An average of 1.8 million gallons of oil-over 50 percent of it cargo-was spilled annually into U.S. waters between 1994 and 1998.

. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges about 300 million cubic yards of sediments-some of it contaminated-from navigation channels each year.

. Almost all (93 percent) of the lead content of disposed batteries was reused in 1998, but only 24 percent of the 4.5 million tons of scrapped tires were recycled.

National Security

U.S. Coast Guard vessel in Baltimore, MD.

U.S. Coast Guard vessel in Baltimore, MD.

The nation's economic well-being and national security are dependent on a transportation system that can move people, goods, and military personnel and equipment without the fear of intentional disruption or damage by terrorists or other criminal elements.

. Prior to September 11, 2001, incidents of unlawful interference with civil aviation-primarily hijackings and sabotage-had been decreasing since the 1970s. In 2000, attacks against civil aviation worldwide claimed only 2 lives and wounded 27 others.

. Among all nations, the United States ranks 11th in merchant shipbuilding, just ahead of Romania but behind countries such as Croatia and Finland.

. The U.S. aerospace industry is the single largest U.S. net exporter, with a positive trade balance in 1999 of $37 billion.

. OPEC supplied about 46 percent of U.S. net imports, 25 percent of total U.S. oil consumption in 1999.

. The U.S. Coast Guard seized a record 111,689 pounds of cocaine in 1999, with an estimated street value of $3.7 billion, and interdicted 4,826 illegal aliens at sea.

The State of Transportation Statistics

Bicycles parked at National Airport Metrorail Station.

Bicycles parked at National Airport Metrorail Station.

People and organizations make innumerable transportation decisions every day. In order for the transportation system to work effectively and efficiently, decisionmakers everywhere need good information. Much data are currently collected, analyzed, and disseminated by a variety of organizations, but whether or not these data will help the transportation community make good decisions is a concern.

. Under the new Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety Data Action Plan, activities are underway to improve the quality, timeliness, and relevance of transportation safety data.

. Data for DOT's performance measures will be supported by the best statistical practices for data collection.

. The Omnibus Survey generates a monthly report about the transportation system, how it is used, and how the users view it.

. TranStats, formerly called Intermodal Transportation Database (ITDB), will provide one-stop shopping for many databases maintained by DOT.

. BTS's Transportation Indicators provides decisionmakers with quarterly, monthly, and in some cases, weekly data.