With Oregon lawmakers set to get down to business in the coming weeks, it’s a good time to prepare for the upcoming debates by brushing up on the latest traffic safety data.
The early edition of the 2009 Traffic Safety Facts is a 232 page compilation of national traffic collision data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and General Estimate System (GES) published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF here). This is an early report (2010 data is not expected to be available until early 2012), but it still contains several gems of information.
Although the focus of the report is on motor vehicles, the report provides meaningful data on the casualties of motor-vehicle collisions. According to the report, there were 5.5 million police-reported motor vehicle traffic collisions in 2009 with a total death toll of 33,808 and with an additional 2,217,000 people injured.
Overall, fatal crashes decreased 9.9% from 2008 to 2009 and the non-occupant fatalities rate per 100,000 population has decreased 60.2% from 1975 to 2009, per the report.
People killed while walking and bicycling accounted for 5% of the fatalities in 2009: 630 Americans died and 51,000 were injured by motor vehicles while bicycling and 4,092 Americans were killed and 59,000 were injured while walking.
Tables 101 through 105 in Chapter 4 of the report break down the bicycling casualties by various factors with the following highlights:
- 33.2% (209) of bicycling fatalities were in an intersection; 66% (416) were killed in non-intersections (5 were killed in unknown areas).
- 137 people between the ages of 45 and 54 were killed while bicycling, the highest number of any age group.
- Light trucks were involved with 270 of the bicycling fatalities, passenger cars 237, and buses 3.
- More people were killed (89) or injured (12,000) while bicycling between 3 pm and 6 pm; more than any other three hour time slot.
- Failure to yield right of way by the bicycle operator was listed as a factor in 117 of the fatalities, more than any other reported factor.
- Operating a bicycle in an “Erratic, reckless, careless or negligent operation” was not reported as a factor in any of the deaths.
Tables 96 through 100 in Chapter of the report list the various factors that led to fatal crashes between a motor vehicle and someone walking. Here are two highlights:
- 24.1% (986) of pedestrians killed were in intersections; 74.8% (3,061) were in areas other than an intersection.
- Improper crossing of roadway or intersection was listed as a factor in 842 pedestrian deaths, more than any other factor.
As we’ve already seen here in Oregon, legislators have major concerns about traffic safety. Statistics should play a large role in that discussion and NHTSA data is a great resource. Check out NHTSA.gov/FARS to learn more.