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Safety and Security

Safety and Security

Reducing transportation-related deaths, injuries, and property damage is a priority goal of the transportation community. In most categories fatality rates in relation to miles traveled have declined over time, which means the transportation system is safer than in prior years. While much progress has been made in reducing the number of deaths from their high point in the 1970s, the absolute number of fatalities and injuries remains very high, and some categories (e.g., fatalities among people on motorcycles) have shown recent increases. Security issues for travelers, vehicles, and transportation systems encompass vulnerability to terrorism attacks, impact of criminal activities, and system breakdowns (short- and long-term) because of natural disasters.

Safety and security for travelers, vehicles, and transportation systems


  • There were nearly 45,000 fatalities in transportation accidents in the United States in 2004, of which 95 percent involved highway motor vehicles (Table J-2 in Chapter 2).
  • In 2005, 43,443 motorists and nonmotorists were killed in crashes involving motor vehicles, up 1% compared with 2004, and about 2.7 million people were injured. (Tables J-1 and J-3)
  • There were 1.47 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of highway travel in 2005. (Tables J-1 and B-1)
  • There were 5,665 pedestrians and pedalcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2005. (Table J-1)
  • More than 4,500 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2005, 13% more
    than in 2004. (Table J-1)
  • There were 248 transit fatalities in 2004. (Table J-1)
  • Twenty-two people were killed in U.S. domestic commercial aviation accidents in 2005, while 562 fatalities resulted from general aviation accidents. (Table J-1)
  • There were 36 waterborne commerce vessel-related fatalities in 2004 and 676 recreational boating fatalities in 2004. (Table J-1)
  • There were 19 pipeline fatalities in 2005. (Table J-1)
  • Of the 888 railroad-related fatalities in 2005, 357 fatalities were at highway-rail grade crossings, and the other 531 fatalities were rail only. Sixteen passengers on trains were killed. (Table J-1)
  • An estimated 2.8 million people suffered some kind of transportation-related injury in 2004. Most of these injuries, about 99 percent, resulted from highway crashes. (Table J-3)


  • The total number of prohibited items intercepted at airport screening checkpoints doubled between 2004 and 2005; the large increase was primarily due to the prohibition of lighters on board beginning in April 2005. (Table J-7 in Chapter 2)

Frequency of vehicle and transportation facility repairs and other interruptions of transportation service

  • Class I railroad companies maintained 167,312 miles of track in 2004, down from 183,685 miles of track in 1994. In 2004, rail companies replaced 591,400 tons of rail (18 percent less than in 1994) and 13.3 million crossties (8 percent more than in 1994). Railroads also periodically replace or rebuild locomotives and freight cars. On average, new and rebuilt locomotives made up around 4 percent of Class I railroad fleets between 1995 and 2005. (Tables I-2, I-3 and I-4
    in Chapter 2)
  • Transit service interruptions for all types of transit decreased 20 percent between 1995 and 2000 and 18 percent between 2001 and 2004. (Table I-5)
  • Forty-eight percent of downtime at St. Lawrence Seaway locks in 2005 was caused by weather; the next largest cause of downtime was vessel incidents. (Table I-6)
  • There were more than 2 million roadside truck inspections in 2005, with about 490,000 out-of-service orders issued for serious violations. (Table I-1)
Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2017