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Changes in the Consequences of Transportation

Safety on the transportation system has continued to improve since the 1994 Transportation Statistics Annual Report. Fatalities have declined for the major modes of transportation even as the population continued to grow. Fatalities in smaller categories, such as bus occupants and motorcycles, have increased (see table 3). The biggest safety improvement is in highway fatalities, especially among those in their late teens and early twenties (see figures 18 and 19).

In recent years, distracted driving has joined traditional safety concerns, such as alcoholimpaired vehicle and boat operation. While fatality rates have improved, highway fatalities per capita in the United States exceed all Western European countries and Canada [IRTAD 2014].

The 1994 report included a brief discussion of acts of terrorism and the number of firearms and explosives detected by airport security screenings. The brevity reflected the smaller focus on terrorism in the years before hijacked aircraft were used in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, resulting in destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City and crashed into the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania, although explosives in motor vehicles were used to attack the World Trade Center in 1993 and to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

In 1994 the energy and environment section of TSAR highlighted energy consumption, air quality, and the noise aspects of transportation. The section also featured municipal solid waste as an environmental problem that created a major market for transportation. Waste and scrap shipments, by tonnage, grew 2.9 percent per year between 1997 and 2012, increasing in share of total tons moved from 5.5 to 7.0 percent.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have joined the list of environmental concerns since 1994, adding transition of vehicles from petroleum to low-carbon energy as an energy topic. Two current options for light-duty vehicles are plug-ins and fuel cells. In order to gauge the market potential and impacts on energy and GHG emissions of alternative-fuel vehicles, it is important to understand the strengths and limitations of each vehicle type, how they will be used and refueled, refueling and other operating costs, and vehicle operating range allowed by supporting infrastructure.

Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2017