Although U.S. transportation fatalities increased slightly last year, aviation remained one of the safest forms of travel, according to preliminary figures released by the NTSB last month.
The number of people killed in all aviation accidents dropped from 1,171 in 2001 to 618 last year. In 2001 airline fatalities accounted for a total of 531 deaths, a figure that includes the crew and passengers on the four airplanes hijacked on 9/11 (but not ground fatalities) and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 near New York JFK Airport in November.
There were no fatalities on scheduled passenger carriers last year, but the number of general aviation fatalities increased slightly from 562 in 2001 to 576 in 2002. In addition, there were 33 deaths in on-demand air taxis, versus 60 in 2001, and nine involving non-U.S.-registered aircraft, compared with five in 2001.
More people were killed in recreational boating–750–than in all forms of aviation. Total marine deaths were 793, although fatalities declined in marine cargo transportation, commercial fishing and commercial passenger operations from 91 in 2001 to 43 last year. In 2001, recreational boating accounted for 681 deaths and the total for all marine accidents was 772.
Total rail fatalities increased last year to 861 from 823 in 2001, reflecting a rise in pedestrian fatalities associated with intercity rail operations. Of that total, there were 227 passenger deaths, including 220 on light, heavy and commuter trains and seven intercity passengers. By far the largest number of fatalities occurred on and off the nation’s roads, where some form of vehicle caused 42,815 deaths.