Transportation Injury Rates

Transportation Injury Rates

Each year a far larger number of people are injured than killed in transportation-related accidents. Over 2.9 million people suffered some kind of injury involving passenger and freight transportation in 2003 (box 3-B). Most of these injuries, 99 percent, resulted from highway crashes1 [1, 2].

Highway injury rates vary by the type of vehicle used (figure 3-4). In 2003, 67 passenger car occupants were injured per 100 million passenger-miles of travel (pmt) compared with 51 injured 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 some highway modes declined between 1993 and 2003.2 However, rates for light-truck occupants rose 7 percent, from 48 per 100 million pmt in 1993 to 51 per 100 million pmt in 2003 (figure 3-5). Motorcycling became safer in terms of injuries per mile ridden until 1999; but since then, the injury rate increased from 429 per 100 million pmt to 554 per 100 million pmt by 2003. Bus injuries have fluctuated between 10 per 100 million pmt and 15 per 100 million pmt.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2003 (Washington DC: 2004), table VM-1.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 2005, table 2-2, available at, as of August 2005.

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

2 Bicycling, walking, and boating (including recreational boating) are excluded, because there are no national annual trend data estimates of pmt for these forms of transportation.