Transportation Injury Rates

Transportation Injury Rates

Each year a far larger number of people are injured than killed in transportation-related accidents. An estimated 3.0 million1 people suffered some kind of injury involving passenger and freight transportation in 2002 (box 9-C). Most of these injuries, about 98 percent, resulted from highway crashes2 [1, 2].

Highway injury rates vary by the type of vehicle used (figure 9-6). In 2002, 69 passenger car occupants were injured per 100 million passenger-miles of travel (pmt) compared with 51 light truck occupants. Occupants of large trucks and buses are less likely to sustain an injury per mile of travel. Motorcycle riders are, by far, the most likely to get hurt.

Injury rates for most modes declined between 1992 and 2002.3 However, rates for light truck occupants rose 13 percent, from 45 per 100 million pmt in 1992 to 51 per 100 million pmt in 2002 (figure 9-7). Motorcycling became safer per mile ridden until 1999, but since then, the injury rate increased from 429 per 100 million pmt to 555 per 100 million pmt by 2002. Bus injuries per 100 million pmt have fluctuated.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 2002, table 2-2 revised, available at, as of January 2004.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2002 (Washington DC: 2003), table VM-1, also available at, as of March 2004.

1 Some of the data included in this number are preliminary.

2 There is the potential for some double counting involving highway-rail grade crossing and transit bus data.

3 These calculations exclude bicycling, walking, and boating (including recreational boating), because there are no national annual trend data estimates of pmt for these modes of transportation.