oversight

Highway Safety: Trends in Highway Fatalities 1975-1987

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-03-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                   United   States   Geeeral   ,&counting   Office

   GAO             Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
                   on Investigations and Oversight,
                   Committee on Public Works and
                   Transportation, House of
                   Representatives
  March   1990
                   HIGHWAY SAFETY
                   Trends in Highway
                   Fatalities 1975-87




’ ’ GAO/PEMD-9wO
             United States
             General Accounting  Office
             Washington, D.C. 20548

             Program Evaluation    and
             Methodology  Division

             P-237223

             March 9, 1990

             The Honorable Glenn M. Anderson
             Chairman, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight
             Committee on Public Works and Transportation
             House of Representatives

             Dear Mr. Chairman:

             On October 11, 1988. the Subcommittee Chairman requested that we
             undertake a study of fatal traffic accidents in the IJnited States over a
             1%year period for which there are data in the Fatal Accident Reporting
             System (Y.us). The request asked that we focus on motor vehicle safety
             policies as they relate to the vehicle, the driver, and the roadway envi-
             ronment in 1975 through 1987. The request also asked that we give par-
             ticular attention to several highway environment issues-namely, (1)
             narrow bridges, (2) operational deficiencies (for example, the absence of
             traffic controls)! (3) wet weather performance, (4) st,udded tires, (5)
             freeway signs and related highway geometry, and (6) roadside hazards.

             Most of the information in this letter and its appendixes is derived from
             data for 1975 through 1987 in the FARS data base. developed and main-
             taincd by the National Ilighway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
             I~~WSinchrdes data on about 4 1,000 fatal accidems per year involving
             about fiO.000 vehicles and about 110,000 persons who may be vehicle
             occupants, pedestrians, or cyclists.


             The National Safety Council reports that since 1948, there have been
Background   about lOO,OOOaccidental deaths per year and, on the average, almost
             half of these deaths resulted from motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehi-
             cle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death overall and the
             leading cause of accidental death for persons age 1 to 74. For persons 75
             and older, motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death
             from accidents. exceeded only by deaths resulting from falls, Deaths
             from motor vehicle accidents are a special problem for the youth of our
             cBountry. In 1984, almost three fourths of all accidental deaths for per-
             sons age 15-24 resulted from motor vehicle accidents, and these deaths
             accounted for almost 40 percent of all deaths for that age group.

             The National Safety Council has gathered statistics on deaths from
             motor vehicle accidents since 1913. Over this extended time, the number



             Page 1             GAO, PF.MD-90-10 Highway   Safety: Trends   in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
R-237223




compared to the low year of 1982-83 associated with the upturn in the
overall trend.

Driver fatalities account for more than half of all motor-vehicle-related
fatalities, and male fatalities dominate the fatality statistics, whether
viewed as simple counts or adjusted for exposure in terms of fatality
rates per million population. We also compared fatalities to other cxpo-
sure measures--such as miles driven, drivers, and registered vehicles
The fact that these fat,ality rates have steadily declined suggests that,
the apparent increase in various fatal accident statistics since 1983 is
most likely a function of increased motor vehicle activity rather than a
decline in general motor vehicle safety. However, more sophisticated
analyses of disaggregattxd statistics, which we plan to undertake in sub-
sequent work, may indicate that some types of vehicles are, in fact,
unambiguously safer than others. The female fatality rate for I& and
17.year-olds has st.rongly influenced the overall rate for this age group
since 1983. The fatality rate for females of this age group increased
from a little over 170 per million population in 1982 to over 240 per
million in 1987, an increase of about 40 percent. The 1987 rate was
exceeded only by the 1980 rate, but there was not a great disparity
between the two. The c>xpcrience for males of this age group is not
nearly as dramatic. Table 1 highlights other general fatality statistics
that, by 1987. showed inc.reases of 20 percent or more, either from t,hc
 1975 base year or from the low year associated with the upturn in the
overall trend in 1982 or 1983. Additional information on general fatal
accident trends is containc‘tl in appendix II




Page 3           QAO;PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalitirs   1975-X7
                                        Table 2 highlights the driver-related statistics that, by 1987, showed
                                        increases of 20 percent or more, either from the 1975 base year or from
                                        the low year associated with the upturn in the overall trend in 1982 or
                                         1983. See appendix III for an in-depth discussion of trends in driver-
                                        related statistics.

Table 2: Highlights of Driver-Related
Fatal Accident Statistic@                                                                                Percent   increase   in 1997
                                        Variable                                                --Over   1975                    Over 198243
                                        drover involvement rate
                                           By gender Female                                              26 09                              22 23
                                        By age group
                                           Age 16 17                                                                                        27 40
                                        t&e byage group
                                           16~17                                                                                           .20 55
                                        Female bv aae
                                          -16-17                                                         50   78                            59 87
                                          18-20                                                          35   71                            26 03
                                         ~21~25                                                          27   79                            26 59
                                          Over 65                                                        47   20                            31 81
                                        Speed of vekes      in mph
                                          36-45                                                          29 54
                                          46-55                                                          25 77                              22 07
                                          56-65                                                          68 96                              49 12
                                          Over 65                                                                                           24 42
                                        Dwers not wng      safety restraint                              26 42                              22 10
                                        ‘Blank cells indicate that the rate of change did not exceed 20 percent


                                        The types of vehicles involved in fatal accidents have changed over the
                                        years. The number of small cars involved in fatal motor vehicle acci-
                                        dents has increased more than 100 percent from 1975 through 1987; the
                                        number of light trucks and vans in fatal accidents has increased more
                                        t,han 50 percent in the same time. The numbers of fatalities in these
                                        types of vehicles show similar increases. However, both the rate of vehi-
                                        cle involvement in fatal accidents per number of registered vehicles and
                                        the number of fatalities per number of registered vehicles are still gener-
                                        ally declining for these types of vehicles. Exceptions to the general
                                        decline are the rates for subcompact automobiles and conventional
                                        pickup trucks, which have been increasing since 1983. Even though acci-
                                        dent involvement rates and fatality rates for small automobiles have
                                        been declining, they arc still a matter of concern, since the rates are con-
                                        siderably higher than t,hose of larger automobiles. While medium and



                                        Page 5                   (iA0   ‘PEMD-90-10   Highway    Safety: Trends in Highway    Fatalities   1975-W
                                         B-237223




Table 3: Highlights of Vehicle-Related
Fatal Accident Statistics’                                                                             Percent increase        in 1987
                                                                                                  Over 1975                       Over 199243
                                         Accident
                                         ~-~~       rwolvement by automoblle swe
                                           Mrislze                                                        150.73
                                           Subcompact                                                     193 13                             54 12
                                            Compact                                                       751 II                            228.37
                                           All small automoblles                                          257 15                             69 57
                                            IntermedIate automobIles                                      11672
                                         Fatalltles by automobile SIE
                                            Mlnwze                                                        13436
                                            Subcompact         ~~                                         17061                              46 30
                                           Compact                                                        672 64                            222 94
                                           All small automoblles                                          224 13                             59 03
                                           IntermedIate automoblles                                       10230
                                         Accident involvement bv truck tvoe
                                           All light trucks                                                69 57                             31 00
                                           All trucks                                                      51 58                             23 15
                                         Number of fatalltles by truck tbpe
                                           All light trucks                                                63 87                             32 59
                                           All trucks                                                      47 05                             25 85
                                         Other vehicles Involved
                                           Motorcycles                                                     24 41
                                           Buses                                                                                             22 49
                                         Fatalltles r other vehicles
                                           Motorcycles
                                             .~                                                            26 40
                                           Buses                                                                                             28 57
                                           Other                                                                                             31 85
                                         Deaths by rltlal Impact of accident vehicles
                                           NoncollIsIon                                                                                      29 49
                                           Side                                                            20 70
                                           Rearend                                                         59 73
                                           Other                                                                                             46 90
                                         Deaths bv DrinciDal imoact of accident vehicles
                                           NoncollIsIon                                                                                      29 45
                                           Rearend                                                         65.23                             41 97
                                         'Blank cells indicate that the rate of change did not exceed 20 percent


                                         While the numbers of fatal accidents under various environmental con-
                                         ditions reflect the effects of those conditions within any particular year.
                                         in most cases we did not find that they caused patterns to deviate from
                                         the overall trend. Exceptions include some of the specific areas of the
                                         Subcommittee’s concern-namely,        traffic controls, freeway accidents


                                         Page 7                   GAO;PEMD-90-10      Highway   Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                  R-237223




                  Over the years, tires are being reported less and less as a contributing
                  factor in fatal motor vehicle accidents. The number of vehicles in fatal
                  accidents with tires as a contributing factor declined more than 40 per-
                  cent from 1977 through 1987. The use of studded tires is not specifically
                  reported in the FANS data base.

                  In most years, more than 90 percent of freeway accidents occurred
                  where no special signs or other traffic controls existed. While we could
                  not obtain data indicating the relative mileage for freeway locations,
                  with and without, signs, the increasing trend of freeway accidents is
                  steeper when no freeway traffic controls exist.

                  FAKSreports roadside hazards as a problem for very few fatal accidents,
                  never totaling more than 400 a year, and the total number of such acci-
                  dents decreased rather steadily from 1976 through 1981. As a conse-
                  quence, the E:-\KSsystem stopped collecting special data on hazards after
                  1981.


                  We provided drafts of this report to the National Center for Statistics
Agency Comments   and Analysis of NITSA and met with an official of the center to discuss
                  the study results. He expressed general agreement with the study
                  results, making a few editorial suggestions that improve the clarity of
                  the presentation. We incorporated these suggestions in the report where
                  appropriate.

                  As agreed with your office, this report is being issued on an unrestricted
                  basis. We are sending copies to the Administrator of the National High-
                  way Traffic Safety Administration, to other organizations interested in
                  highways and highwa\, safety issues, and to others upon request.




                  Page 9            GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
Page 11   GAO,‘PEMI)-90-10   Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalitirs   .~75-U7
Appendix V                                                                                                         86
Statistics Related to   Fatal Accidents by Type of Roadway                                                         86
                        Roadway Conditions                                                                         87
the Driving             Roadside and Traffic Conditions                                                            88
Environment             Fatal Accidents and Weather Conditions                                                     93
                        Fatal Accidents by Day of t,he Week                                                        93
                        Accidents by the Time of’ Day                                                              95
                        Accidents by Season of the Year                                                            96
                        Conchlsions                                                                                98

Appendix VI                                                                                                         99
Major Contributors to
This Report
Bibliography                                                                                                      100

                                                                                                                   -

Tables                  Table 1: Highlights of General Fatal Accident Statistics                                       4
                        Table 2: Highlights of Driver-Related Fatal Accident                                           5
                            Statistics
                        Table 3: Highlights of L’ehicle-Related Fatal Accident                                          7
                            Statistics
                        Table 4: Highlights of Environment-Related Fatal                                                8
                            Accident Statistics
                        Table 1.1: Relationship of Accidental Deaths to Total                                          18
                            Deaths in 1984
                        Table 1.2: Summary of Legislative Safety Concerns                                           20
                        Table II. 1: Fatal Accidents by Number of Fatalities                                        31
                            Involved
                        Table 11.2:Fatalities by Role                                                               32
                        Table 11.3:Fatal Accidents by Number of Vehicles                                            32
                             Involved
                        Table 11.4:Vehicles Involved in One-Vehicle Fatal                                              33
                             Accidents
                        Table 11.5:Fatalities by Age and Gender                                                     36
                        Table 11.6: Pedestrian Fatalities by Age and Gender                                         44
                        Table III. 1: Driver Involvement in Fatal Accidents Per                                     49
                             Million Population in 1987
                        Table 111.2:Drivers Involved in Fatal Accidents by Age                                         53
                             and Gender


                        Page 13           GAO, PEMD-9010   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
Figure III. 10: Motor Vehicle Occupants in Fatal Accidents                                    59
     Whose Reported lJsc of Restraints Is lJnknown
Figure III.1 1: Motor Vehicle Occupants in Fatal Accidents                                    60
     Reported Not Using Safety Restraints
Figure III.12: Occupants Killed Who Were Not Using                                            61
     Safety Restraints
Figure III. 13: Occupants Killed Who Were ITsing Safety                                       62
     Rest,raints
Figure 111.14:Occupants Killed Whose LTseof Restraints                                        63
     Was   [inknown
Figure IV. 1: Fatal Accident Rate by Size of Automobile                                       65
Figure IV.2: Fatal Accident Rate for Small Automobiles                                        66
Figure 1\‘.3: Fat,al Accident Rate by Type of Truck                                           67
Figure IV.4: Fatal Accident Rate by Type of Light Truck                                       68
Figure IV.5 Fatal A(,cident Rate for Medium and Heavy                                         69
     Trucks
Figure IV.6: Fatality Races by Size of Automobile                                              70
Figure IV.7: Fat,ality Rates for Small Automobiles                                             71
Figure IV.8: Truck Fatality Rates by Type of Truck                                             72
Figure IV.9: Overall Truck Fatality Rate                                                       73
Figure IV.10: Fatality Rates for Light Trucks                                                  73
Figure IV. 11: The A\~ragc~ Age of All Automobiles and of                                      74
     Those in Fatal r\ccidents
Figure IV. 12: The Av(xtg(l .4ge of Trucks and Those in                                        75
     Fatal Accidents
Figure IV. 13: Automobiles in Fatal Accidents by Age                                           76
Figure IV. 14: Trucks in Fatal Accidents by Age                                                77
Figure IV.15: Tires as iI Contributing Factor in Fatal                                         81
     Accidents
Figure IV. 16: Vehi&~ Fatalities by Direction of Initial                                       82
     Impact
Figure IV.17: Vehicle Fatalities by Direction of Principal                                     83
     Impact
Figure IV.18: Vehicle Fatalities With Principal Rearend                                        84
     Impact
Figure IV.19: Vehicle Fat,alities From Xoncollision                                            84
     Accidents
Figure V. 1: Fatal Accidents by Type of Roadway                                                87
Figure V.2: Fatal Arcident,s on Freeways                                                       90
Figure V.3: Freeway Fatal Accidents With Some Traffic                                          90
     Controls
Figure V.4: Fatal Accidents Involving Roadside Hazards                                         91
Figure V.5: Fatal Acxidents Involving Bridges                                                  92


Page 15           GAO, I’EMI)-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
Page 17   GAO/PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975%’
                      Appendix I
                      Rackgmund




                      The Department of Transportation Act (Public Law 89-670), dated Octo-
Legislative History   ber 15,1966, established the Department of Transportation (LXX) and
                      gave to it the responsibilities under the National Traffic and Motor Vehi-
                      cle Safety Act of 1966 and the Highway Safety Act of 1966. The High-
                      way Safety Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-605) created the National
                      Highway Traffic Safety Administration within the DOT and assigned to it
                      the responsibilities for the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety
                      Act of 1966 and the portions of the Highway Safety Act of 1966 related
                      to highway safety programs not otherwise assigned to the Federal High-
                      way Administration. Since 1966, the Congress has passed several other
                      laws that relate, either directly or indirectly, to highway safety. All the
                      legislation related to highway safety addressed, to varying degrees,
                      three basic areas related to highway safety-the motor vehicle, the
                      vehicle driver, and the highway environment. Some of the specific con-
                      cerns of this legislation are summarized in the table 1.2.




                      Page 19           GAO :PEMD-YO-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                         Appendix I
                         Background




                         This study would seem to call for directing more future safety efforts
                         toward preparing better drivers and improving the driving environment.
                         The study also reinforces a bifurcation in highway safety research
                         between crash avoidance measures and occupant protection measures;
                         the former focus on vehicle control while the latter focus on crash
                         energy management.


                         While the total number of highway deaths has been declining over the
Objectives, Scope, and   last 15 years, the aggregate statistic hides upward trends of selected
Methodology              components. The objectives of this report are to identify and describe
                         the changing composition of the nation’s highway fatality toll. We focus
                         on fatality trends over time and how these trends compare or contrast
                         with safety policy as it. relates to the driver, the vehicle, and the road-
                         way environment. WC describe only the trends that are derivable from
                         the FAKS data base maintained by NIITSA and related measures of expo-
                         sure to fatal accidents. ’ We do not attempt to explain causes for trends
                         or to determine the interaction of various elements included in the FARS
                         dat,a base. We also do not consider the effects of such developments as
                         helicopter evacuation and hospital trauma units on fatalities.

                         In developing this report, we used the annual computerized ~4~s data
                         base maintained by NHTSA.We present results developed from the ~44~s
                         data base for 1976 through 1987, using the three basic FAKS subfiles-
                         the accident file, the person file, and the vehicle-driver file. These files
                         include data on about 41,000 fatal accidents per year, about 60,000
                         vehicles per year involved in those accidents, and about 110,000 persons
                         per year involved as vehicle occupants, as pedestrians, or in other roles.
                         We recoded some of the data to meet our needs (for example, age catego-
                         ries). and we recoded other data (for example, vehicle size) from input
                         from NIITSA. Data to compute exposure rates came from various sources.
                         Driver registration data were not readily available to satisfy the break-
                         downs necessary for our analysis. Instead, we used population d&a,
                         which we obtained from Bureau of the Census publications, that include
                         only the IT.S. resident population. Vehicle age data came from Motor




                         ‘The twm “exposure,” as used m traffic safety research, is the measure of th? total magnitude of
                         vat-IOUS cate@xs of mteresf (for example. all dnvers by age and gender, or the age, type. and size of
                         all registered vchrles) that vould be mvolred in fatal traffic accidents. Exposure rates cornpan’ the
                         actual fatal traffic awldent StatiStics that occur to these various universe sizes Some common cxpo-
                         sure meawres XP popnlat~~m driwl- registration data. and vehlclc registration data.




                         Page 21                 GAO, PEMD-90-10 Highway       Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                      Appendix I
                      Background




                      vehicle or a nonmotorist-within    30 days of the accident. NHTSA adopted
                      the 30.day requirement because studies show that 98 percent of all
                      motor-vehicle-related fatalities occur within 30 days of the accident and
                      because this allows expeditious reporting. Most other countries use the
                      30-day reporting period.

                      FARS  collects data at three levels: (1) the accident level, containing data
                      on accident characteristics such as location, time, day of week, number
                      of vehicles involved, and descriptions of the road conditions; (2) the
                      vehicle-driver level, containing data on each vehicle and driver involved
                      in the accident such as the vehicle’s description and how it was damaged
                      and variables describing the driving history of the drivers involved; and
                      (3) the person level. containing data on each person involved in the acci-
                      dent, such as age, degree of injury, use of safety restraints, alcohol
                      involvement, and role (driver. passenger, pedestrian, and so on).

                      FARS   data are collected by state employees. KHTSA has contracts with all
                      50 states, Puerto Rico. and the District of Columbia to provide the neces-
                      sary information. KHTS.~furnishes standardized data collection instru-
                      ments, and state IQWSanalysts use sources such as state vehicle
                      registrations, driver licensing and highway department files, and vital
                      statistics and death ct,rtificates to gather the necessary information. As
                      state FAKS analysts CWer the data into NHTSA'S computerized central data
                      file, the data are aut,omatically checked on-line for range and consis-
                      tency as part of P,alisquality control.


                      While we have identified numerous citations of automobile safety
The Contribution of   research-including     numerous studies performed by NHTSA using FAHS-
This Report           very little of thal rcsc~ch discussed the changes in the characteristics
                      of fatal accident statistics over time. Moreover, while studies on specific
                      fatal accident characteristics--such as trucks versus cars or male versus
                      female drivers-have, been performed by others, these studies have
                      tended toward a narrow focus. In addition, because of the difficulty in
                      obtaining accident t’xposure information, little information is available
                      t,hat compares accidc,nt fatality statistics to various measures of acci-
                      dent exposure such iIs vehicle miles traveled, number of registered vehi-
                      cles, or number ol‘ drlvcrs. This report attempts to fill some of these
                      gaps by presenting int’ormat,ion that is (1) trend-based, (2) extensive in
                      accident charactt%tics discussed, and (3) related, where possible, to
                      measures of cxposut’(’ to fatal accidents.




                      Page 23           GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-W
                                                          Appendix II
                                                          General Fatal Accident   Statistics




Figure 11.1: Number of Accidents,             Vehicles,   and Deaths in Fatal Accidents
70000          Number




        ,976            1976        19n        1976         1979       1980        1961         1982       1983             1994       1966        1966          1967


               -        Number of Accidents
               ----     Number of Vehicles
               m        Number of Deaths



                                                           The comparisons of the three trends indicate the obvious-on the one
                                                           hand, fatalities do not occur in all vehicles involved in fatal accidents
                                                           and, on the other hand, some fatal accidents have more than one fatal-
                                                           ity. The comparisons would also seem to indicate that despite a gener-
                                                           ally better record than in the late 1970’s, the occurrence of fatal
                                                           accidents and related fatalities appears to be on the rise again. The
                                                           apparent increase since 1983 is somewhat tempered when increase in
                                                           exposure to motor vehicle accidents is considered. Since our analyses
                                                           showed that the overall trend tended to be predominant, the following
                                                           sections of this report concentrate on patterns that depart from the
                                                           overall trend.


                                                           To determine how much of the change in numbers of accidents is simply
Fatal Accident Rate                                        a reflection of a larger number of motor vehicles being on the road, we
Trends                                                     compared the numbtars of fatal motor vehicle accidents and fatalities to
                                                           three generally acccptcd units of exposure to such accidents-namely,
                                                           miles driven, the number of registered vehicles, and the number of regis-
                                                           tered drivers. ThtstL comparisons show mixed results. While the fatal


                                                           Page 25                 GAOIPEMD-90-10      Highway    Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                    Appendix II
                                                    General Fatal Accident   Statistics




Figure 11.3: Fatality   Rate Trends
4.0   Rate




2.5




      -         Rate per 10,ooO Vehides
      ----      Rateper10,oooDrivers
      m         Rate per 100 Million Miles Driven




                                                    Since we were not able to obtain data to group the nation’s drivers by
Fatality Rates Per                                  age and gender, we focused on the fatality rates per one million popula-
Million Population                                  tion to display any differences. The pattern of this fatality rate trend is
                                                    basically the same as that of the overall trend. (See figure 11.4.) F’atali-
                                                    ties reached a high of almost 230 per million population in 1979, fell to a
                                                    low of a little over 180 per million population in 1983, and increased to a
                                                    rate of about 190 per million population in 1987. The fatality rate for
                                                    males has been two and a half to three times as large as that for females.
                                                    (See figure 11.5.) In recent years, the fatality rate for females has shown
                                                    a higher rate of growth than that of males. Despite this more rapid
                                                    growth, however, the fatality rate for females was still less than half
                                                    the rate for males in 1987. Since 1983, the overall fatality rate has
                                                    increased about 6 pcrc,cnt; the rate for males, however, has increased
                                                    less than 3 percent white the rate for females has increased 10 percent.




                                                     Page 27                 tiAO/PEMIXlO-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                   Appendix II
                                                   General Fatal Accident   Stat istics




Figure 11.5: Fatalities   Per Million Population   by Gender
360   Fatally Rale




      -        Male
      ---I     Female



                                                    There is also a wide divergence between age groups in fatality rates;
                                                    however, fatality rate trends for all age groups tend to follow the over-
                                                    all trend.’ The lowest fatality rate is that for people younger than 16-a
                                                    rate that has never been over 100 per million population and that has
                                                    decreased more than 20 percent since 1975. The highest fatality rate has
                                                    consistently been that for ages 18 through 20, ranging from 414 to 542
                                                    per million population.

                                                    The only aspect of the trends themselves that appear worthy of special
                                                    comment is the er;pcWmce of 16. and 17.year-olds and those over 65
                                                    since 1983. Since 1983, the fatality rate for 16. and 17-year-olds has
                                                    increased from 30 1 per million population to 352 per million population,
                                                    an increase of about 17 prrcent. At the same time, the rate for those




                                                    Page 29                 (GAO ‘PEMD-90.10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                                  --
                                                    Appendix II
                                                    Genrral Fatal Accident    Statistics




                                                    accidents had only one fatality, while accidents with two and three
                                                    fatalities accounted for about 8 and 1 percent of the accidents. Less than
                                                    1 percent of the accidents involved four or more fatalities. (See table
                                                    11.1.)


Table 11.1: Fatal Accidents   by Number of Fatalities      Involved
Number of fatalities    1975      1976     1977         1978      1979        1980          1981     1982     1983       1984      1985       1986       1987
Olle                   35,019    35,451   37,819       39,870    40,608      40,747        39,853   35,356   34.382     36,000    35,562    37,207      37,526
TWO                     3,260     3,323    3,498        3,620     3,708 3,638   3,315                2980     2,888      2.928     2,927     3,127       3171
Three                      633    668        637          657       667    654     620     530                   499    504    513     525   534
Four      -                166    202        180          207       176    174     137     146                   147    143    132     161   136
FIW       -~                44     61        -48           58        37     44      53      48                    37     34     36      47    45
More thank                  30     41         -29          20        27     27      21      32                    23     22     25      23    23
                                                                                                                        ~~  ~__    ___.~~
Total accidentsa       39,161 39,747      42,211      44,433    45,223 45,284  44,000  39,092                37,976 39,631 39,196 41,090 41,436
                                                    *Even though FARS IS supposed to include only fatal accidents the data flies do Include a few acc~
                                                    dents for which zero fatalltles wre recorded Therefore, these totals columns do not all add uu


                                                    Accidents with one. two, and three fatalities follow the overall trend.
                                                    Fatal accidents with four or more fatalities show very erratic patterns
                                                    and are generally small in number, the highest being 208 for accidents
                                                    with four fatalities.


                                                    Who gets killed in fatal motor vehicle accidents? Have the trends in
Fatalities by Person’s                              fatalities differed for various roles (drivers, passengers, pedestrians,
Role                                                and others)‘? Drivers constitute the majority of motor vehicle fatalities
                                                    (about 58 percent in 1987) followed by motor vehicle passengers (about
                                                    25 percent), pedestrians (about 15 percent), and others (about 2 per-
                                                    cent). (See table 11.2.) Fatalities among drivers follow the overall trend.
                                                    Passenger fatalities show a similar trend, although it is not as pro-
                                                    nounced. Pedestrian fatalities show trends different from either driver
                                                    or passenger fatalities. 0ther fatalities consist mostly of pedalcyclists
                                                    and fewer than 100 other nonoccupant fatalities per year.




                                                    Page RI                   GAO ‘PEMD-90-10 Highway        Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                                       -~        --
                                                          Appendix II
                                                          General Fatal Accident    Statistics




                                                          vehicles increased so much from 1983 onward that 1987 surpassed all
                                                          previous years. However, since fatal accidents involving three or more
                                                          vehicles are not large in number, the peak of 2,367 in 1987 is only about
                                                          360 more fatal accident,s than the previous peak of 1978.


One-Vehicle Accidents                                     Since one-vehicle fatal accidents arc by far the most frequent, we show
                                                          the composition of such accidents in detail. Table II.4 quantifies the
                                                          extent to which particular kinds of vehicles are involved in one-vehicle
                                                          accidents.


Table 11.4:Vehicles   Involved     in One-Vehicle     Fatal Accidents
Type of vehicle            1975      1976      1977           1978      1979        1980          1981       1982      1983      1984       1985         1986       1987
AutomobIle
  Small                    2,235     2,468     2,755         3,648      3.612       4,409  4.729    4,644   4,932                5,581-      5,817     6,968       7,196
  lntermedlate             1,274     1395      1,401          1,710     2,173       2.509  2,497    2,228   2,149                2.312       2 105     2.185       2,154
  Full~slzed               7,646     7,691     7,737         8,043      7,956       7.940  7.150    6 I%0    5.475               5,138-    -i,313      4,411       3,887
  S~zeunknown           5,505       4,948     4549              ~..      .             115  1,966   2,153    1,816              1,588        1,490      1.248       1,391
Total                  16,660      16,502    16,442         16,667     16,747      17,273 16.342 ~~15.045 14.372               14.619     13.725      14.812      14.628
Trucks
  Van~based light           566        518          644         783       886         91 1            837     740        669       684        695        ~~705       845
  Conventional        ~-
      light                3,223     3,639     3,925          4,389     4,646       5,110         4769      4,077      3,993     4 203      4,320       4,733      5,039
  MedIumand
      heavy               1,163      1,350     1,443         1,573       1,574       1,423        1.336      1,081    1,205      1,259      1.160        1,162      1,084
Total                 --4,952        5,507    6,012          6,745-.    7,706       7,444        6,942      5,898     5,867      6,146     6,175        6,600      6,968
Motorcycles              1,276   1,357  1,721  1,876  2,047  2,238  2102   1,965   1,927  2,052  2,049 2,041   1,751
Buses                      158      142   150    147    153    156    155    118     130-   125    124    115    110
Other vehicles             605--   i92    565    333    321    313    357    825-~ -752     755    802    707    702
Total vehicles         23,651 24,100 24,890 i5,768- 26,374 27,424 25,898 23,851 23,048 23,69?- 22,875 24,275 24,156


Automobiles         and Trucks                            As might be expect ~1, automobiles are by far the most likely vehicles to
                                                          be involved in one-vehicle fatal accidents. More automobiles have been
                                                          involved in one-vehicle fatal accidents than all other vehicle types. How-
                                                          ever, the differencca in such accidents between automobiles and trucks
                                                          has been narrowing somewhat in recent years. In 1976, automobiles
                                                          (about 70 percent of the total) were involved in about three and a half
                                                          times as many one-vehicle fatal accidents as trucks (about 20 percent);
                                                          by 1987, automobiles (about 60 percent of the total vehicles) were less
                                                          involved in such accidents, and trucks (almost 30 percent) were much
                                                          more involved. so that the number of automobiles involved in one-vehi-
                                                          cle accidents was only about twice the number of trucks.


                                                          Page 33                   GAO ‘PEMD-90-10         Highway   Safety: Tlpnds   in Highway    Fatalities   197587
                                               Appendix II
                                               General Fatal Accident     Statistics




Figure 11.6:One-Vehicle   Fatal Automobile   Accidents    by Automobile      Size
20000 Number of Accidenlo




                UnknownSize


                Intermediate



Buses                                           One-vehicle fatal bus accidents have never been large in number; there
                                                were fewer than 160 in the peak year of 1975. From 1975 through 1981,
                                                fatal one-vehicle bus accidents varied up and down within a range of 20
                                                of the 1975 peak year and then dropped almost 25 percent in 1982.
                                                After a slight imrease in 1983 one-vehicle fatal bus accidents fell to 110
                                                in 1987, the lowest total on record. In 1987, buses accounted for less
                                                than 1 percent of the vehicles involved in onc-vehicle fatal accidents.

Motorcycles                                     One-vehicle fatal motorcycle accidents show a trend different from any
                                                other type of one-vehicle accident. The first year of our study, 1975, had
                                                the fewest one-vehicle fatal motorcycle accidents. One-vehicle motorcy-
                                                cle accidents increased dramatically, however, from 1975 through 1980,
                                                increasing about 75 percent, With the exception of 1984, however, one-
                                                vehicle fatal motorcycle accidents have been on the decline since 1980,
                                                but the number is still considerably higher than in 1975. In 1987,
                                                motorcycles accounted for about 7 percent of the vehicles involved in
                                                one-vehicle fatal accidents


                                                Page 35                   GAO PEMD-‘JO-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                        Appendix II
                        General Fatal Accident   Statistics




Fatalities by Gender    Clearly more males than females are killed in motor vehicle accidents. In
                        fact, almost three times as many males as females die in motor vehicle
                        accidents each year. The principal difference in trends is that, while
                        trends for both are similar to the overall trend, the number of female
                        fatalities has increased much more rapidly than the number of male
                        fatalities since 1983; 1987 was the peak year for female fatalities. By
                         1987, females accounted for about 30 percent of motor vehicle fatalities
                        while males accounted for about 70 percent.


Fatalities by Age       Just as there were differences in the fatality trends for the genders irre-
                        spective of age, there were’ some differences in the trends by age irre-
                        spective of gender. The 16-17, 21-25, and 51-65 age groups tend to
                        follow the overall trend. The other age groups are worthy of some dis-
                        cussion, however, because of certain departures from the overall trend.
                        The under-16 age group did not follow the overall trend at all until 1983.
                        Fatalities for this age group continually declined from 1975 through
                         1983 and then increased slightly through 1987. The 1987 level of fatali-
                        ties is still about 26 percent below the peak level of 1975, however. The
                         18-20 group, while showing patterns similar to the overall trend in the
                        early years, has not shown the general tendency to increase since 1983.
                        Fatalities for the 2B-50 group tended to follow the overall trend through
                         1983. However, the decline from the peak year in 1981 was not as dra-
                        matic as in other cases. and the number of fatalities for this age group in
                         1987-the peak year-is almost 30-percent higher than in 1975. Fatali-
                        ties for the over-65 group show perhaps the most disturbing pattern.
                        After showing slight declines in fatalities from 1975 through 1981,
                        fatalities for this age group dropped about 5 percent in 1982. IJnfortu-
                        nately, since 1982, fatalities for this age group have increased more
                        than 20 percent. reaching a peak in 1987.


Fatalities by Age and   It is interesting to SW how age and gender, considered together, illus-
Gender                  trate departures from the overall trend while also pointing out any dif-
                        ferences between male and female for each age group. The various age
                        groups show the following differences, either from the overall trend or
                        between genders.

                        The group 16-17 shows a greater percentage increase in female fatalities
                        in recent years t.han male fatalities. (Sec.figure 11.7.)




                        Page 37                  GAO;PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                     Appendix II
                                                     Gwwral Fatal Accident    Stalktics




Figure 11.8: Fatalities       for Ages 18-20 by Gender”
24    Percent   Deviation   From Xi-Year   Average

20
16

12

  6

  4

  0

 4

 .6

-12

-16

-20

-24




                                                     -Percentages are normallred as percentage devlatlons from the 13 year average of fatalltles

                                                     The group 21-25 shows significant trend differences since the 1980 peak
                                                     year. The percentage decline in female fatalities from 1980 through
                                                     1987 was only about half the percentage decline in male fatalities for
                                                     the same period. Moreover, while male fatalities in 1987 for this age
                                                     group were only about 100 more than the previous low year of 1975,
                                                     female fatalities for 1987 were still more than 25 percent higher than
                                                     thr 1975 low. (SW f’igllrc 11.9.)




                                                     Page 39                  GAO PEMD-90.10 Highway        Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                    Appendix II
                                                    General Fatal Accident      Statistics




Figure 11.10: Fatalities       for Ages 26-50 by Gender”
20    Percent   Deviation   Fmm 13-Year   Average

16




  6

  4

  0

 -4

 a

-12

-16

-20




                                                     ‘Percentages   are normallred   as percentage   dewatlons   from the 13.year   average   of annual   fatalltles


                                                     The 51-65 group shows differences in fatality trends between males and
                                                     females in recent years, after somewhat similar experiences in the early
                                                     years. (See figure II. 11.)




                                                     Page 41                     GAO/PEMD-SO.10       Highway    Safety:   Trends in Highway       Fatalities      1975-87
                                                  Appendix Il
                                                  General Fatal Accident    Statistics




Figure 11.12: Fatalities     for Ages 65 and Older by Gender”
21    Percent   DavYIon   From W-Year   Avenge

16

15

12

  9

  6

  3

  0

 4

 4

 a

-12




      -
                 Female

                                                   dPercentages are normallred   ds percentage   dwallons   from the 13.year average of annual fatalkes


                                                   Pedestrian fatalities show trends different from either driver or passen-
 Pedestrian Fatalities                             ger fatalities. As with fatalities in general, we look at (1) fatalities by
                                                   gender irrespective of age, (2) fatalities by age irrespective of gender,
                                                   and (3) fatalities by age and gender taken together. Table II.6 shows the
                                                   distribution of pedestrian fatalities.




                                                   Page 43                  GAO ‘PEMD-90-10      Highway    Safety:   Trends   in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
-.
                        Appendix I1
                        C;meral Fatal Accident   Statistics




                        those older than age 50 have been generally declining, 1987 fatalities
                        being about 15 percent less than in 1975.


Fatalities by Age and   There is very little difference in trends for pedestrian fatalities between
                        males and females under age 21. Pedestrian fatalities for both have been
Gender                  declining rather steadily, and the number in 1987 is only about 60 per-
                        cent of the 1975 pcbaktotal for both. However, fatalities for pedestrians
                        age 21 through 50 showed steady increases for both genders through
                        1980. Thereafter, female fatalities in this age group tended to follow the
                        overall trend while male fatalities tended to decline. For the 50 and
                        older age group, fatalities for both males and females have declined
                        since 1975. However, while fatalities for females tend to follow the
                        overall trend, fatalities for males again have generally continued to
                        decline.


                        The overall trend-increases      from 1975 through 1980, decreases
Conclusions             through 1983, and then increases through 1987-applies to many, but
                        not all, of the general fatality statistics discussed. Drivers are the
                        greater part of motor vehicle fatalities, and male fatalities dominate the
                        fatality statistics, whether viewed as simple counts or as fatality rates
                        per million population. Relating fatalities to other exposure measures
                        such as miles driven and numbers of drivers and registered vehicles sug-
                        gests that not all but much of the apparent increase in various fatal acci-
                        dent statistics since 1983 is a function of increased motor vehicle
                        activity rather than a decline in general motor vehicle safety. However,
                        more sophisticated analyses of disaggregated statistics that we plan to
                        use in subsequent reports may indicate that some types of vehicles are
                        safer than others.




                         Page 45                 GAO     PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                                                                                 -                                        -
                                                                Appendix III
                                                                Driver-Related     Statistics




Figure 111.1:Driver Fatal Accident                    Rates by Gender
700         Rate per Million   Population


666


600

                                                                                                                                                                           1
400


300


zoo

,w       _11~1~11---------------------------------~~~~~~~~~                                                          l_lll______l___l_____--I----I-


     0

     1976            1976            19n             1976      1979         1960            1961         1962       1963             1964         1966     1966          1967




                                                                Page 47                         GAO.‘PEMD~YO-10 Highway    Safety: Trends in Highway     Fatalities   19’75-87
                                                          Appendix III
                                                          Driver-Related     Statistics




Table 111.1:Driver Involvement in Fatal
Accidents Per Million Population in 1987                  Age group                                           Male                        Female                   Overall
                                                          16-17                                                622                           243                       437
                                                          18~20                                                922                           266                       596
                                                          21-25                                                847                           218                       533
                                                          26-50                                                501                            135                      317
                                                          51-65                                                 319                            89                     198
                                                          Old&r-thi;65          ~-~                             300                            83                     170
                                                          Overall                                               468                           127                     296




Figure 111.3:Fatal Accident              Rate for Drivers 16 and 17
666      Rate per Ylllion   Population


476




425




375




325
                                                                                                                                                                        1
  1976            1976            1977        1976       1979         1980            1961         1962       1983              1964         19SJ       1986          1967




                                                          Page 49                         GAO/PEMD-90-10   Highway    Safety:    Trends    in Hiway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                    Appendix III
                                                    Driver-Related      Statistics




Figure 111.5:Male Driver Fatal Accident         Rate by Age Group
800      Rate per Million   Population

750
                                                --------0-9 ---.--.

600




  1975             197s           1977   1979       1979         1960                1981       1962      1963             1964       1965         1966          1987



         -         Under 21
         -9-9      Age2160
         -         Age51-65
         . . . .   OlderThan




                                                     Page 51                          GAOIPEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:     Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                         Appendix III
                                                         Driver-Related   Statistics




Table 111.2:Drivers Involved        in Fatal Accidents      by Age and Gender
Gender          Age group              1975      1976       1977      1976      1979        1960    1981     1982       1983       1984    1985        1986      1987
Male
                    Under16              444      449        481        460       460        424      388      332    328    366    384    382                     365
                    16~17              2,922    2,985      3,222      3,300     3,140      2,%-     2,601    2,092  1,967 2,059   2,037 2,422                   ~2.426
                    18-20              6,858    6,996      7,580      8,049     7,980      7,595    6,824    5,852 5,348   5.655 5,227 5,456                     5;i31
                    21~25              8,949     9,023     9,949 10 565 10,976 lo@     10,469                9,112 8,429   8,859 8,882 9,051                     8,655
                    26-50             18,341    18,008    19,566 21,174 21,784 21,531 21,731                19,404 19,175 19,955 20,293 21,218                  21,822
                    51-65              5,289     5,368     5,456  5,705  5,527   5,428  5,430                4,744 4,622 4,805    4822   4,697                   4361
                    Older than 65      2,728     2,711     2,775  2,872  2,801   2,701  2,783                2,673 2,788   2,880 3,029 3,239                     3,336
                    Unknown              120    93     105    110    115   y-1 8   110    161    155    144    172    188  186
                    Total            45.651 45.633 49.134 52.235 52.783 51.463 50.336 44.370 42.812 44.723 44.846 46.653 46.882
Female
                    Under16                74      81 ~- 102    102                84          98      93      80          88        80       95         122        105
                    16-17                 676     732    SOS    793               851         801     708     578         660       687      753         854       900
                    18-20               1,221   1.407   1.534 1,619             1,526      l-i67    1,502   1,336       1,358     1,402    1,368       1431      1.454
                    21-25              i,6<2    1,694 -I,%?0 2.058              2,021      2,028    2,008   1,856       1,886     2.020    2,135       2,131     cil8
                    26-50              3,855    3,941   4,226 4,427             4.700      4.792    4,801   4,482       4,605     5,117    5,131       5,420     6002
                -   51-65
                     ~ ---             1,301
                                       ~~    1,365
                                               ~~ ~~ 1,501
                                                      ~~__ 1,436
                                                             ~.~ _ 1,399 1:438- 1,482  1,360  1,383 1.473   1,502 1,472    1,534
                    Older than 65        701    814    788   888     809   827    895    967    962   1107  1,142 1,289    1373
                    Unknown               27     10     15     15     17     15    20      16     16     21     16     19     16
                    Total             9,457 10,044 10,892 11,338 11,409 11,466 11,509 10,675 10,958 11,907 12,142 12,744 13,604
Unknown                                  34      20     23     27     39    28    309    984    886    882    895    938     948
Total drivers                        55,142 55,697 60,049 63,600 64,231 62,957 62,154 56,029 54,656 57,512 57,883 60,335 61,434


                                                         For drivers 16 and 17, the number of male drivers again tends to follow
                                                         the overall trend, while the number of female drivers shows substantial
                                                         swings in the trend. The involvement of male drivers 16 and 17 years
                                                         old reached a peak in 1978 but then decreased about 40 percent through
                                                          1983. Even though the number of male drivers of this age involved in
                                                         fatal accidents increased from 1983 through 1987, the number in 1987
                                                         was still about. 25 percent less than the peak year of 1978. Female driv-
                                                         ers in this age group involved in fatal accidents increased about 26 pcr-
                                                         cent from 1975 through 1979 and then fell dramatically by about 32
                                                         percent to a low in 1982. From 1982 through 1987, however, female
                                                         drivers of this age in fatal accidents increased about 56 percent, to reach
                                                         the peak of 900 in 1987.

                                                         While the number of male drivers 18 through 20 followed the overall
                                                         trend through 1983. this group did not show the increase since 1983
                                                         that is characteristic, of the overall trend. While there were both


                                                         Page 53                       GAO/PEMD-99.10   Highway     Safety:   Trends in Highway    Fatalities   1975437
                                                        Appendix III
                                                        Driver-Related      Statistics




                                                        vehicles involved in fatal accidents was reported as unknown. Keverthe-
                                                        less, the analysis of known speeds yields some interesting insights. For
                                                        vehicles for which speed is known, the 36 to 55 miles per hour range is
                                                        the most frequent speed encountered. (See figure 111.7.)Further break-
                                                        down of this speed bracket shows that vehicles with speeds of 46-55
                                                        mph account for about 60 percent of the vehicles in this bracket. These
                                                        breakdowns also show that vehicles with speeds of less than 55 mph are
                                                        more involved in fatal accidents than vehicles with higher speeds. IIow-
                                                        ever, since data on speed are available for only about 40 to 45 percent of
                                                        the vehicles in fatal accidents, the issue of the relationship of speed to
                                                        fatal accidents still necsdsto be investigated further.



Figure 111.7:Speed of Vehicles           in Fatal Accident9
14ooo      Number   of Vehicles




 2000




    1975            1976          l9i7       1976       1979         1990                1991     1962      1963             1964       1965        1966          1967



           -         35 mph or less
           -1-1      36-55mph
           -         56-65mph
           n m..     Morethan65mph

                                                        ‘Data on speed are unavaiwat,lt for 1980 and 1981



                                                        The prcsenrc of drinking drivers has been a matter of concern in high-
Drinking Drivers                                        way safety for many years. ITnfortunately, not all states have been dili-
                                                        gent in determining whether drivers in fatal accidents had been


                                                        Page 6.5                         GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway    Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   lY75-87
                                                                                    Appendix         III
                                                                                    Drivrr-Rrlated          St&i&c’s




Figure          111.8: Drinking                Drivers Reported                in FARS Compared             to Single-Vehicle      Nighttime    Accident9
45       Percent      of Total Aocldents



40


                                                            c-------c
35                                                      .
                                                   r*
                                               z
30                                         I
                                          .O
                                     r'
26                               :
                             2
20   -11----2



15


 1975                 1976                         1977                 1973       1979              1980              1991       1982         1953         1964       1965         1966          1967



         -             Single Vehicle Nighttime Surrogate
         I---          FARS Drinking Percent

                                                                                     'For lhls analysts       night time IS 6 00 p m to 6 00 am



                                                                                    Perhaps the most interesting insight about the use of safety restraints is
The Use of Safety                                                                   the relatively small. though increasing, percentage of drivers and pas-
Restraints                                                                          sengers in fatal accidents who use them and the increasing ability of
                                                                                    accident investigators to determine whether they were used, as evi-
                                                                                    denced by the continuing decline in the percentage of both drivers and
                                                                                    passengers whose IW of them was labeled unknown. (See figures III.9
                                                                                    and III. 10.) Since both the percentage not using safety restraints and the
                                                                                    percentage whose usage is unknown have been declining at the same
                                                                                    time in recent years, the increasing percentages shown for the use of
                                                                                    safety restraints sincr 1981 are, indeed, real increases.




                                                                                     Pagr.57                            GAO   ‘PEMD-90.10   Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.97
                                               Appendix III
                                               Driver-Related     Statistics




Figure 111.10:Motor Vehicle Occupants     in Fatal Accidents      Whose Reported        Use of Restraints     Is Unknown
35   Perem of occupants




 1975          1975         1977   1979       1979         1990            1981        1932       1983           1994        1985        1986          1987



        -      Drivers
        ----   Passengers


                                                For both drivers and passengers, the percentage reported not using
                                                safety restraints continued to rise from 1975 until 1981, but both have
                                                been on the decline since then. (See figure III. 11.) Nonuse by drivers
                                                reached a high of about 73 percent in 1981 and fell after that to about
                                                54 percent in 1987. Nonuse by passengers fell from about 78 percent to
                                                about 64 percent in the same period. The reported use of safety
                                                restraints increased from about 6 to about 30 percent over this period,
                                                while the reported use for passengers increased from about 3 to about
                                                23 percent. Over this same period, the percentage whose use was
                                                unknown fell from about 22 to about 17 for drivers and from about 19
                                                to about 13 for passengers. The experience of recent years. therefore,
                                                shows either an increased interest by the driving public in prot,ecting
                                                themselves in motor vehicle accidents or the effectiveness of recently
                                                enacted mandatory st’at belt laws, or perhaps both,




                                                Page 59                        GAO /PEMD-SO-10 Highway      Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                        Appendix 111
                                                        Drkrr-Related Statistic!.




Figure 111.12:Occupants          Killed Who Were Not Using Safety Restraints
60   Percent   Killed When Restraints   Were Not Used




     -          Driver
     - - --     Passenger




                                                         Pagr 61                    GAO PEMD-90.10 Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                                                                    -
                                                          Appendix III
                                                          Driver-Related    Statistics




Figure 111.14:Occupants           Killed Whose Use of Restraints           Was Unknown
45   Percent   Killed Whore   Restraint   Usage Was Unknown




                                                          Increased use of motor vehicle safety restraints since 1979 or 1980
                                                          appears to have sawd the lives of many mot,or vehicle drivers and pas-
                                                          sengers. More and mow wcupants are reported using safety restraints.
                                                          Moreover. the fatality trend for occupants who arc reported as using
                                                          restraints has been steadily declining whik t,hc trend for those reported
                                                          as not using restraint s has been steadily increasing. While high driving
                                                          speeds arc likely to bc ;I problem. FAKSdata art’ so limited that they arc’
                                                          of litt,le help in firmly c,stablishing trends rclatcd to speed.




                                                              Page 63                    GAO PF:M1XNlO   Highway   Safet.y: Trends in Highway   Fatalitirs   1975.87
                                             Appendix lV
                                             Vehicle-Related         Statistics




Figure IV.l: Fatal Accident   Rate by Size
of Automobilea
                                             500         Rate per Million   Automobiles




                                             250


                                             2m

                                                  1978            1979            1980       1981       1992             1993        1994            1985      1985



                                                         -          Small
                                                         ----       Intermediate
                                                         m          Full


                                              ‘The number of registered dulomoblles           by we was not wallable       for years prior to 1978


                                             The involvement rate for small automobiles is also not as clear as figure
                                             IV.1 might indicate. Disaggregating the total shows not only differing
                                             trends for the different sizes of small automobiles but also very differ-
                                             ent fatal accident involvement rates. (See figure IV.2.) Even though it is
                                             on the decline, the involvement rate for minisize automobiles is still the
                                             highest by far. Interestingly, the rate for compact automobiles has con-
                                             sistently been higher than that for subcompacts. However, the rate for
                                             subcompacts has increased substantially since 1983. The rate for com-
                                             pact automobiles, however, after increasing in the early years, declined
                                             rapidly after 19Sl and has been rather steady since 1983.




                                              Page 65                             GAO/PEMD-90.10    Highway    Safety:    Trends in Highway     Fatalities   1975-X7
                                             Appendix IV
                                             Vehicle-Related     Statistic?,




Figure IV.3: Fatal Accident   Rate by Type
of Trucka
                                             600    Involwmem      Rate per Million Trucks




                                             400


                                             3M) -----1-....-
                                                                           -------....ll
                                                                                                     ---...........
                                             200                                                                                   -------..........l

                                             im
                                                                                                                                                                         \
                                               1990               1961                     1982          1963               1984                   1965                1966


                                                     -          All Trucks
                                                     ----       Van-basedTrucks
                                                     m          Cnnvenhnal Pickups
                                                     n nnn      Medium and Heavy Trucks

                                              The number of registered         lnrkb   by see was not available for years prior to 1979




                                             Page 67                       GAWPEMD-90-10          Highway       Safety:   Trends in Highway             Fatalities   1975-W
                                      Appendix     IV
                                      Vehicle-Rrlatfxl    Statistics




Figure IV.5 Fatal Accident Rate for
Medium and Heavy Truck??              700      Invo(vsnnti Rate per Mllllon Trucks




                                      600




                                        1980               1981            1992          1993               1984              1985             1966

                                       ‘The number of reQlSiered trucks by type was not wallabe     for years prior to 1979


                                      We also analyzed f&al motor vehicle accidents to find the differences, if
Fatality Rate by Type                 any, in the rates of fatalities by type or size of vehicle and in the trends
and Size of Vehicle                   for these fatalities.


Automobiles                           Generally, the relationships for automobile occupant fatalities are simi-
                                      lar to the fatal accident involvement rates. (See figure IV.6.) In 1975, the
                                      fatality rate for intermediate automobiles was the highest of all automo-
                                      biles, but by 1986 it was the lowest. The rate for small automobiles has
                                      been consistently high, while the rate for full-size automobiles was the
                                      lowest in all years except 1986. The rate for full-size automobiles had
                                      been declining but, in 1986 it increased almost 14 percent. The fatality
                                      rate for the occupanm of intermediate automobiles has been steadily
                                      declining, having decreased about 50 percent from 1978 through 1986.
                                      The fatality rate for minisize automobiles was higher than the rate for
                                      other small cars, the rate for subcompact cars being the lowest. (See fig-
                                      ure IV.7.) The fatality rates for the various types of small automobiles
                                      show the same trends as the fatal accident involvement rates for those
                                      automobiles.




                                      Page 69                      GAO/PEMD-90-10    Highway    Safety:   Trends in Highway     Fatalities   197587
                                          Appendix IV
                                          Vehicle-Related     Statistics




Figure IV.7: Fatality   Rates for Small
Automobilesa                              600    Faalnles per Milllon Automobiles




                                          450

                                          400

                                          360




                                          200

                                          160


                                            1978            1979           1960      1961       1962         1963       1964         1966         1986



                                                   -         All Small
                                                   ----      Minisize
                                                   m         Subcompact
                                                   nnnn      Compact


                                          “The number of registered autamob!les was not available by size for years prior to 1978


Trucks                                    Analysis of fatality ratths for truck occupants shows how important con-
                                          ventional pickup trucks arc in the overall fatality rate for trucks. (See
                                          figure IV.8.)2 The fatality rate for conventional pickup trucks tends to
                                          raise the overall trurk rate as well as the rate for all light trucks. The
                                          rates for van-based light trucks and medium and heavy trucks are small
                                          by comparison. The fatality rate for all truck occupants irrespective of
                                          siztl or type of truck has been declining rather steadily since 1978; it has
                                          dcclincd over 30 percent since that year. (See figure IV.9.) The number
                                          of c*onventional pickup t,ruc:ks has cxert,cd a substantial influence on the
                                          light truck fatality ratc‘ and has shown a general pattern of increase
                                          since 1983. While the fatality rate for occupants of van-based light
                                          truc*ks has declined stc,adily since 1980, decreasing about 45 percent, the
                                          rat t’ for oc*cupants of cclnvcntional pickups declined only through




                                          Page 71                          GAO ‘PEMD-WI0    Highway    Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   IW’R-X7
                                                Appendix IV
                                                Vehicle-Related       Statistics




Figure IV.9: Overall Truck Fatality      Rate
280   Fstality Rate per Million Trucks
270

260




im




Figure IV.10: Fatality    Rates for Light
Trucks
                                                350       Fatality Rate per Million Trucks


                                                300


                                                250



                                                2M)



                                                150    -----1-...-
                                                                              -0..
                                                                                       -.
                                                                                            -9..
                                                                                                    --0..
                                                100                                                         --.....-----..~~~
                                                                                                                                           --.......----=


                                                  50


                                                   1980                19sl                  1992             1983              1994               1995              1995



                                                          -          All Light Trucks
                                                          - - - -    Van-based Trucks
                                                          m          Conventional Pi&ups




                                                 Page 73                           GAO, PEMD-90.10 Highway            Safety: Trends in Highway       Fatalities   1976.87
                                                     Appendix IV
                                                     Vehicle-Related   Statistics




Figure IV.12: The Average           Age of Trucks and Those in Fatal Accidents
9   Average   Aqs   in Years




    -         Trucks in Accidents
    ----      Trudtson the Roads


                                                     Another difference between automobiles and trucks is that the accident
                                                     rates per 100,000 registered vehicles for various age groupings of aut,o-
                                                     mobiles have tended to converge over the years toward a similar acci-
                                                     dent rate while the rates for trucks have tended to maintain differing
                                                     rates for different ages. (See figures IV.13 and V.14.) Moreover, trucks
                                                     less than 5 years old are more involved in fatal accidents than any other
                                                     age group for trucks while automobiles 11 to 15 years old tend to have
                                                     t,hc highest involvemc,nt rate. In both instances, however, the rate of
                                                     involvement has bc~n 5tcadily declining sixe 1978.

                                                     Some of the trend dlrcctions for vehicles of various age can be seen
                                                     when WCanalyze each age group of vehicles separately. The accident
                                                     rates per 100,000 rcgistrred vehicles for automobiles 15 years old and
                                                     less have been generally declining since about 1978 and the involvement
                                                     rates for automobiles 5 years old and less, 6 to 10 years old, and 11 to 15
                                                     years old were all beltcvcen 30 and 33 per 100,000 registered automobiles
                                                     in 1987. The rate per 100.000 registered automobiles more than 15 years
                                                     old was about 27 in 1087. close to the rate for automobiles of other ages.
                                                     The fatal-accidt~nt-in~( Ilvement rates for trucks are different from those
                                                     of automobiles. Similat, to automobiles, the rate for trucaks 10 years old


                                                     Page 75                    GAO PF:MD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.R7
                                                                    Appendix IV
                                                                    Vrhiclr-Related    Statistics




Figure      IV.14     Trucks    in   Fatal Accidents         by Age
90      Accidents     per 100,000    Registered Trucks


m




                                           ,,,,......====.....,......=~~8
     l mmm
             •,~mmmmmmmmm~                                                                           l -m-m................                  ¤mmmmmmmmmmmm~mmmm

20


 1975               1976            19i7          1979            1979          1980          1981      1992        1933             1994       1995         1986          1987



        -           5 years and under
        ----        6loyears
        -           II-15years
        . . . .     16yearsandolder




                                                                    Automobiles are clearly more involved than trucks in fatal accidents.
The Types of Vehicles                                               Two to three times as many automobiles are involved. Other types of
Involved in Fatal                                                   vehicles such as buses and motorcycles are involved even less often than
Accidents                                                           trucks. (See table II’. 1.)




                                                                    Page77                     GAO ‘PKMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:     Trends in Highway   Fatalities   197587
                                                      Appendix N
                                                      Vehicle-Related     Statistics




                                                      accidents has increased almost ‘70 percent since 1975. The number of
                                                      medium and heavy trucks in fatal accidents, however, increased about
                                                      40 percent from 1975 through 1979 but has since fallen off. so that the
                                                      number for 1987 is only about 20 percent higher than that in 1975.


Other Vehicles                                        Other types of vehicles show varying trends of involvement in fatal
                                                      motor vehicle accidents. The number of motorcycles increased almost 60
                                                      percent from 1975 through 1980 but has declined since then, so that the
                                                      number in 1987 was only about 25 percent more than in 1975. The
                                                      number of buses has nc’ver hew very high, never reaching as many as
                                                      400 in a year.


                                                      Trends in fatal motor vehicle accidents by type of vehicle are generally
Fatalities by Type of                                 reflected in the number of fatalities in those vehicles. There arc clearly
Vehicle Involved                                      more fatalities in automobiles than in other types of vehicle. There are
                                                      three to four times as many automobile fatalities as truck fatalities.
                                                      Fatalities in other types of vehicles such as buses and motorcycles occur
                                                      even less often. (See table IV.2.)


Table IV.2: Fatalities   by Type of Vehicle
Type of vehicle            1975     1976      1977           1976       1979           1960       1961     1962      1963
                                                                                                                     -~          1964     1965        1966        1967
Automobiles
  Small                   4,289     4.903     5,606          6351       7 354          8,348      9,220    8.742     9,336~ 10,662       11,<02      i3jO99     13,902
  IntermedIate             1,911     2147     2,265  2,843 --3,486.-                3 999        4.108    3,778      3743        3,807    3,663      3,902     3 866
  Full~slzed              10,758    11,074-- 11,426 12,179 11,797                  11 315        9,948 -~a,ls<       7,701      7189       6,339     6,631     5,856
  Size unknown             8,992     8,062    77499  6,793    5,183                 3.793        3375     3,061      2,612      2,322     2070        1.682    1,850
Total                    25,950    26,166 26,796 26,166 27,620                    27,455        26,651 23,735       2w92       23,960    23,574     25,314.25,474
Trucks
  Van~hased llqht           643       624-~     745            926      1,019          1000        958       828       729        775       797          885     1049
  ConventIonal
     plckup               4,029     4,706     5,104          5,710      6,102          6.461      6050     5,110     5,045      5,328     5477        6.007      6,607
   MedIumand
     heavvtrucks          1,185     1303      1,481          1.601      1569           1.347      1.279    1.041     1070        1 188    1.120       1041         957
Total                     5,657     6,633     7,330          6,237      6,690      6,606         6,267    6,979      6,644      7,291     7,394       7,933      6,613
Motorcycles                3,189  3,312   4,104            4,577       4 894        5 144  4,906  4,453  4,265  4 608   4.564                        4,588  4031
Buses                         53     73.-    42               40          39           46     57     35     51-    46      57                            18     45
Other vehicles               876  1,335   1,461           ~1,100       1,153        1,369  1.395.   473~   314-   397     499                           400    414
Total fatalities         35,925 37,539 39,733            42,120      42,956       42,622 41,296 35,675 34,666 36,;22  36,066                        36,253 36,577




                                                      lbgr     79                      GAO     PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway    Fatalities   1975-87
                                                Appendix IV
                                                VehiclrRrlated   Statistics




                                                IV.15.) Even in the peak year of 1977. only about 1,400 vehicles in fatal
                                                accidents were reported as having problems with tires. This number
                                                declined more than 40 percent until, in 1987. only 850 vehicles were
                                                reported with tires as a contributing factor. In none of these instances
                                                was the use of studded tires specifically reported.



Figure IV.15: Tires as a Contributina   Factor in Fatal Accidents
1500   Number of Vehicles




imo




                                                Most fatalities in vehicles occur from head-on impacts, whether the
Vehicle Fatalities and                          head-on collision is the initial or principal impact.,’ (See figures IV. 16 and
Collisions                                      IV. 17.) Fatalities from collision with the side, whether passengers’ or
                                                drivers’ side, taken together were consistently less than 50 percent of
                                                the fatalities from head-on impacts. Fatalities in head-on impacts tend to
                                                follow the overall trend. as do fatalities from drivers’ and passengers’
                                                side impacts. Fatalities from rearend impacts, however, are on the
                                                mcreasc. (See figure IV. 18 on page 84.) The trend when the impact was
                                                classified as top, undercarriage, override, or underride is not clear.
                                                When only the initial impact is considered, fatalities follow the overall




                                                Page 81                       GAO, PEMD-SO-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalitirs   1975-87
                                                      Appendix IV
                                                      Vehicle-Related       Statistics




Figure IV.17: Vehicle Fatalities       by Direction   of Principal      Impacta
22500     Number of Fatalities




   1975             1976         i9n      1978         1979          1980            1981        1982         1982             1984       1985         1986         1987


          -          Head-on
          ----       Rearend
          -          Side
          . . . .    Other

                                                       ‘Other Includes accldenls         r which the prlnc~pal Impact IS described as noncoll~s~on, top, undercarri
                                                      age overrfde or unknown




                                                      Page RL                        GAO:PEMD-SO-10      Highway     Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1976.87
Appendix IV
Vehicle-Related   Statistics




accidents, and so are more and more light trucks and vans. Fatalities in
these vehicles are also on the increase. However, the fatal accident
involvement rates and the fatality rates per number of registered vehi-
cles are still generally declining. Exceptions to the general decline in
these rates are the rates for subcompact automobiles and conventional
pickup trucks, which have been increasing since 1983. Even though acci-
dent involvement rates and fatality rates for small automobiles have
been declining, they arc still a matter of concern, since they are consid-
crably higher than those of larger automobiles. While medium and
heavy trucks have one of the lowest occupant fatality rates, they have
one’ of the highest fatal accident involvement rates. Age of vehicle does
not appear to be as important a factor for automobiles as for trucks,
since automobiles of all ages have very similar accident involvement
rates. The only types of accidents that showed trends different from the
overall trend are rcarend collisions and noncollision accidents, which
have been increasing rather steadily.




Page 85                        GAO JPEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                          Appendix      V
                                                                          Statistics    Related   to the Driving   Environment




Figure V.l: Fatal Accidents                       by Type of Roadway
25000          Number    of FaInI Accldsnls
                                                     IIIL-----           ---------~-.
                                           ,e--
                                 *c**
zoooo       I-II.I-c*-




15000




10900




 5000




        0

        1975             1976           1977                 1978          19-n           1980          1981         1992        1999             19s.l            1985        1995          1997



               -          Limited Access
               -1-1       Major Roads
               -          Other Roads




                                                                              Roadway surface conditions are not a major factor in most fatal acci-
 Roadway Conditions                                                           dents, since over 80 percent of all fatal accidents occur on dry roads.
                                                                              (See table V. 1.) Accidents on both wet and dry roads tend to follow the
                                                                              overall trend. Fatal accidents under other road surface conditions such
                                                                              as snow and ice have always been few in number.


 Table V.l: Fatal Accidents by Road Surface Condition
 Condition               1975   1976     1977   1976                                        1979    1980            1981      1982       1963              1984       1985      1986        1987
 Dry                    31,630 32,848 34,170 ~36,312                                       36,201~ 38,062          36666     31,515     30,618            32,233     31,818    33,909      34,411
 Wet                                 5,752           5,133           5,942       5,958      6,929    5272           5496      5823       5,734         5,673         5,439      5,801       5,625
 Snow        or slush                   657             549             748         778        F333-   843             779       77i        694           685           902       497          566
 Ice                                    722             833             956         963        846     727             506       667        620           788           802        604         587
 Other                                  400             384             395         422        414     380             553       312        310           252           235        279         240
 Total accidents                    39,161          39,747          42,211      44,433     45,223 45,284           44,000    $9,092     37,976        39,631        39,196     41,090      41,435




                                                                              Paye 87                   GAO /PEMD-90.10       Highway   Safety:     Trends in Highway         Fatalities   1975-87
                                                  Appendix      1’
                                                  Statist.ics   Related   to the Driving    Environment




Table V.2: Fatal Accidents by Type of Traffic Control
Control                 1975   1976     1977     1978               1979        1980        1981      1982       1983        1984      1985       1986       1987
None                   31638    31,920   33774        35,399      35,752      34,841       34353     31,514     30,916     31,862    31462     33,094       33.203
stop signal
   Color SIgnal        1913     1937     2097          2,216       2,389       2,382       2346       1,894     1,925       2048      2,069      2,202      2,209
   stop sign           2,952    3.073    3287          3633        3542        3,339       3,386      2,979     2,627       2 930     3,023      3,179      3,349
Total                  4,865    5,010    5,384         5,849       5,931       5,721       5,732      4,873     4,552       4,978     5,092      5,381      5,558
Yield slgnal
   Flashing slgnal        278      243      255           273         289         260         292         280      259        281      -251         269       299
   Yield sign             167      155      174           162         184         187         144         161      114        133       140~        158       121
   Sct~ool zone s,gn       11       12       15             5           8          7            6           6        6         15         9           9         9
   Pedestmn sIgnal          0        0        0            32          43         53           52         240      169        217       195         174       225
Total                     456      410      444           472         524        507          494         687      548        646       595         610       654
Railroad crowng
  Physlcalcontrol         185      188      200           230         203         223         237          78       70          86       79          89         74
  stop s,gn               156      155      148           145         129         109          96          51       46          60       29          27         29
  Other                   275      331      302           308         302         275         192         301      282         366      305         316        314
Total                     616      674      650           683         634         607         525         430      398         512      413         432        417
Traffic control not
  functIonlng              50       37       42             32         40          53          40         94     76     65                68        76     32
Other                   1,279    1,452    1,696          1,819      2,214       3,396       2,500      1390   1,419  1,519             1,482     1456   1,523
Unknown                   257      244      221            179        128         159         356        104     67     49                84        41     48
Total accidents        39.161   39.747   42,211       44,433      45,223      45,284       44,000    39,092 37,976 39,631            39,196    41,090 41,435




Freeway Signs                                      IW.KShas recorded data specifically on freeway accidents only since
                                                   1981. Since then. frtx(l\Vay accidents have accounted for less than 15 per-
                                                   cent of all fatal accidents. IIowever, after a slight drop in 1982. the tots1
                                                   number of fatal accidents on frerways has increased about 18 percent.
                                                   (SW figure V.2.) Thtl brllk of this increase occurred in 1987. In most,
                                                   years, over 90 pcrccnt of these accidents occurred where no special
                                                   signs or other traffic c~ontrols existed. The pattern of accident increase
                                                   on freeways tends to b(l more intense when no freeway traffic controls
                                                   Mst (SW figure i’ :i i




                                                   Page 89                      GAO, PEMD-90.10 Highway          Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalitirs   1975-87
                                          Apprndix     V
                                          Statistics   Related   to the Driving   Environment




Roadside Hazards                          FAKS reports roadside hazards as a problem for very few fatal accidents;
                                          they never total more than 400 accidents a year, and the total of such
                                          hazards has been decreasing rather steadily. (See figure V.4.) As a con-
                                          sequence. the E’XRSsystem stopped collecting special data on hazards
                                          after 198 1. Over half the hazards reported were trees or plants; build-
                                          ings and billboards accounted for fewer than 60 fatal accidents per year.
                                          Other roadside hazards were present at fewer than 120 fatal accidents
                                          per year. Because of the small numbers involved and the short time, not
                                          much can be said about individual types of hazards.


Figure V.4: Fatal Accidents   Involving
Roadside Hazard9
                                          400      Numkr   of Fatal Accidents


                                          350

                                          3m


                                          250


                                          200

                                           150


                                           im

                                            50

                                               0




                                                   E-l       Other Obsbwtions
                                                             Trees, Plants
                                                             Buildings, Billboards, and U-e Like




Narrow-Bridge Accidents                   The Subcommittee txprc,ssed interest in bridge accidents, especially nar-
                                          row-bridge accidents. Ikidge accidents in total have always been fewer
                                          than 1.OOOper year, and acx,idents involving narrow bridges have been




                                           Pagr 91                     GAO PEMD-90.10 Highway      Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                              Appendix     V
                                              StaLktics Related to thr Drilin(! Environment




Figure V.6: Vehicles   Involved   in Bridge
Accidentsa                                    600      Number of Vehicles




                                              550


                                              500




                                                1979           1990         1961       1962

                                               Dab not routinely collected prior tu 1979


                                              Weather is not a significant factor in most fatal accidents, over SOper-
Fatal Accidents and                           cent of the accidents occurring under what was classified as normal
Weather Conditions                            weather conditions. (See table V.3.) The number of normal weather acci-
                                              dents tends to follow the overall trend, while accidents in adverse
                                              weather show inconsisWnt trends.


Table V.3: Fatal Accidents by Type of Weather Condition
Condition               1975   1976    1977    1978     1979  1980  1981                        1982   1983   1984    1985  1986   1987
Normal                32,847 34,126 36 545 38,526 38,677 39,759 38377                         33,374 32,381 34,197 33,647 35,748 36,159
Rar                     3,953  3,514   3,841   3.965    4565  3597  3,723                      3,939  4,088  3,645    3,733 3,851 ~3777
Sleet                      80     70      77     137      109   107    86                         108    107    110     114    91    119
%lOW                      742    649     755     644      672   808   632                         603    681  -636      805   475    622
Fog or other              728    543     623     799      864   797   809                         876    562    910~-   770   784    645
Unknown                   811    845     370     362      336   216   373                         192    157    133     127   141    113
Total accidents       39,161 39,747 42,211 44,433 45,223 45,284 44,000                        39,092 37,976 39,631 39,196 41,090 41,345


                                                               _________-.         ~~~~~
                                              Most fatal accidents oc‘cur on weekends, a pattern that is consistent
Fatal Accidents by                            throughout the years. (SW figure V.7.) About 20 percent of all fatal acci-
Day of the Week                               dents occur on Saturdays, Saturday accidents accounting for almost
                                              2.000 more accidents caachyear than for Fridays and Sundays, the next


                                              PNgr 93                       GAO PEMI)-90.10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-W
                                        Appendix     V
                                        Statistics   Related   to the Driving   Environment




Table V.4: Vehicle Trips and Miles in
1983 by Day of the Week                                                                                                                   Percent of
                                                                                                                                     vehicle miles
                                                                            Percent of        Percer$;     Percent of trips            traveled per
                                        Time                                      trips                            per day                       day
                                        Weekday day                                57 7%             54 4%             115%                      10 9%
                                        Weekday night                               17 7             175                 44                       44
                                        Weekend day                                  173             19 7                  a 7-     ~-            99
                                        Weekend mght                                  68             -78                   23                     26
                                        Unknown                                       05               06




                                        Most fatal traffic accidents occur during the nighttime hours of 7:00
Accidents by the Time                   p.m. through 1 a.m. (See figure V.8.) Fatal accidents in this time period
of Day                                  tend to follow the overall trend, but the total in 1987 was more than 15
                                        percent below the peak year of 1980. Accidents in daytime and rush
                                        hours show some tendency to follow the overall t,rend, but they
                                        increased after 1982, and 1987 was the peak year for accidents in both
                                        time periods. Early morning accidents declined more than 20 percent
                                        from 1980 to 1983 and have remained rather steady since. Comparing
                                        data from the 1983 Nationwide Personal Transportation Study to fatal
                                        accidents for that year shows that the percentage of fatal accidents in
                                        the early morning hours is about four times the percentage of vehicle
                                        miles traveled for that time period. (See table V.5.) The percentage of
                                        fatal accidents during nighttime hours is over twice the percentage of
                                        vehicle miles traveled for t,hat time period. However, the percentage of
                                        fatal accidents in rush hour or other dayt,ime periods is far less than the
                                        percentage of vehicle miles traveled for those periods. As for the day of
                                        accidents, it would seem that aspects of driver behavior are more
                                        responsible for fatal accidents than volume of travel is.




                                        Page 95                      GAO, I’EMD-SO-IO Highway      Safety:   Trends in Highway    Fatalities   1975-87
                                                       Appendix     V
                                                       Statistics   Related   to the Driving   Environment




                                                       seasons is strongly correlated to the vehicle miles traveled for those sea-
                                                       sons. (See table V.G.) While the fatal accident number for each season
                                                       tends to follow the overall trend, each showed a different peak year,
                                                       ranging from 1978 through 1981. Season appears to affect when acci-
                                                       dents occur within a year. while changes across years appear more to
                                                       reflect the overall trend.



Figure V.9: Fatal Accidents            by Season of the Year
14000   Number    of Fatal Accidents

19500

19000

12500

12000




        -          wmter
        mm-1       Spring
        -          Summer
        . . . .    Fail




Table V.6: Relationship of 1983
Accidents to Vehicle Miles Traveled            by                                                                                          Percent of vehicle miles
Season                                                 Season                                                  Percent of accidents                         traveled
                                                       Summer                                                                    28 2%                            24 1%
                                                       Spring                                                                    23 3                             28 1
                                                       Winter                                                                    21 4                             22 8
                                                       Fall                                                                      27 1                             25 0




                                                       Page 97                      GAO/PEMD-90.10           Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
Appendix VI

Major Contributors to This Report


                     Richard ‘I’. ISarms, Assistant Director
Program Evaluation   Roy Ii. .Jones, Project Manager
and Methodology      Dale IV. IIarrison, Opcrirt ions Research Analyst
Division




                     Page 99           GAO. P&MI)-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   IYW87
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lisions.” HSRI Research Review, 9:5 (March-April 1979), 9-17.

Partyka, Susan C. “SimJ)lc Xlodels of Fatality Trends Using Employment
and Population Data.” Accident Analysis and Prevention, 16:3 (1984),
21 l-22.

Rana, Riaz H., and Roger I’. Quene. Review of Motorcycle Exposure
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 Robertson, Leon S. “I’attc>rns of Teenaged Driver Involvement in Fatal
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Semans, Thomas R. Problems in the Establishment of an Equitable
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aaho: Bureau of Highnay Safety, Idaho Transportation Department,
Soptcmb(~r 1977.


 Pagr 103         GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
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Solomon, Kenneth A.. et al. Improving Automotive Safety: The Role of
Industry, the Government, and the Driver. Santa Monica, Calif.: The
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Treat J. R.. et al. Tri-Level Study of the Causes of Traffic Accidents.
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Treat, .J. R., and David Shinar. “A Methodology for Assessing and Classi-
fying Traffic Accident Causes.” I’rcsented at the Motor Vehicle Collision
Investigation Symposium, IJuffalo, New York, October 1975.

I..S. Department of’ Transportation, Office of the Secretary. Personal
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Waller, Patricia F. I’lugging the Gaps in Data Collection Systems. Chapel
Hill, N.C.: Highway Safety Research Center, ITnivcrsity of North Caro-
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Waller, Patricia I’.. ct al. Methods for Measuring Exposure to Automobile
Accidents. Chapel lhll. N.C.: Highway Safety Research Ccntcr, IJniver-
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WHO Ad Hoc Technicxl Group on Road Traffic Accident Statist,&. Road
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Williams, Allan P’. “highttime Driving and Fat,al Crash Involvement of
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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatal Accident Report-
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               Page 100          GAO,‘PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1976-87
              Appendix     V
              Statistics   Related   to the Driving   Environment




              While the numbers of fatal accidents under various environmental con-
Conclusions   ditions reflect the effects of those conditions within any particular year,
              they tend not to cause trend patterns to deviate from the overall trend.
              Exceptions include some of the specific areas of the Subcommittee’s con-
              cern-namely, traffic controls, freeway accidents and freeway signs,
              roadside hazards, and narrow bridges. The number of accidents related
              to roadside hazards and narrow bridges appears to be steadily declining.
              Accidents where only “yield” traffic controls exist are on the increase.
              Freeway accidents are increasing the most where no traffic controls are
              present. However, accidents have increased the most on county and
              other local roads.




              Page 98                     GAO/PEMB90-10        Highway   Safety:   Tends   in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                       Appendix       \’
                                                       Statistics     Related   to the Driving   Environment




Figure V.8: Fatal Accidents         by the Time of Daya
20000   Number of Fatal Accidents




                 Morning Hours (1 a.m. to 6 a.m.)
                 Rush Hours (6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.)
                 Daytime Hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
                 Nighttime Hours (7 p.m. to 1 a.m.)

                                                            ‘Times are based on those reported r the 1983 Natwwde         Personal Transportation     Survey


Table V.5: Relationship of 1993
Accidents to Vehicle Miles Traveled           by                                                                                           Percent of vehicle miles
Time of Day                                             Time                                                   Percent of accidents                         traveled
                                                        Morning                                                                  19.1%                             4 ax
                                                        Rush hours                                                               23 7                             39 i
                                                        DaytIme                                                                  22 9                             40 7
                                                        NighttIme                                                                33 7                             148
                                                        Unknown                                                                   06                               cl6




                                                        Marc fatal accidents occur during the summer than during the other sea-
Accidents by Season                                     sons of the year. ’ However. the numbers for spring and fall are not far
of the Year                                             behind. (Set figure 1’9 ) The number of fatal accidents in the various




                                                            Pay? 96                   G4O,‘PEMD-90-10      Highway   Safety:   l’rends   in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                      Appendix     V
                                                      Statistics   Related   to the Dri\   iag Envirmmmt




                                                      highest days. The pattern for all days, however, tends to follow the
                                                      overall trend. The occurrence of most fatal accidents on weekends
                                                      appears not to bc related to the existence of more motor vehicle activity
                                                      on weekends. Data from the 1983 Nationwide Personal Transportation
                                                      Survey indicate that not only are more total miles driven on weekdays
                                                      than on weekends but also the average per weekend day is less than the
                                                      average per weekday. These same relationships exist for the number of
                                                      vehicle trips on weekends and weekdays. It would seem, therefore, that
                                                      some aspects of driving behavior-perhaps      drinking and driving-are
                                                      more responsible I’or fatal accidents than the volume of travel. (See
                                                      table \‘.4.)



Figure V.7: Fatal Accidents            by Day of the Week
loo00   Number    of Fatal Accidents




        -          Sunday
        --mm       Average per Weekday
        -          Friday
        . . . .    Saturday




                                                       Page 94                      GAO/PEMI>-90.10        Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   197587
                                          Appendix      V
                                          Statistics    Related     to the Driving   Environment




-
                                          even fewer. (See figure V.5.)’ Moreover, these accidents have been
                                          steadily on the decline. The number of vehicles actually striking bridges
                                          is even smaller than the number of accidents involving bridges, and this
                                          number has been steadily declining. (See figure V.6.) Only 450 such acci-
                                          dents occurred in 1987.


Figure V.5: Fatal Accidents   Involving
Bridge9                                   000       Number   of Fatal Accidents

                                          850

                                          800

                                          750

                                          700

                                          659

                                          690

                                          550

                                          500

                                          450

                                          400

                                             1979            1980          1981         1962       1983             1984      1985        1986         1987




                                           Page 92                        GAO PEMD-YO-10 Highway          Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   197587
                                       Appendix         V
                                       Statistics       Related    to the Ikibing       Ewironmrnt




Figure V.2: Fatal Accidents   on
Freeway9                               6000          Number   of Fatal Accidents



                                       5wo



                                       4000



                                       3000



                                       2000



                                       1000



                                             0


                                              1981                 1932                 1983            1984                1985             1986             1987

                                        Data spec~i~cally related 11 frecwajs             not avaIlable prior to 1981



Figure ‘4.3: Freeway Fatal Accidents
With Some Traffic Control9
                                       1000          Number   of Fatal Accidents




                                        600




                                              0

                                              1981                 1982                 1983            1984                1985             1986             1987

                                        ‘Ddta speoflcallp         related 1~ frr”~avs      not avakablc pmr to 1981




                                        Paye 90                           GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway               Safely:   Trends in Highway     Fatalities   197547
                        Appendix     V
                        Statistics   Related   to the Driving   Environmmt




                        The Subcommittee expressed particular interest in how such elements as
Roadside and Traffic    roadside hazards, narrow bridges, traffic controls, and the like affect
Conditions              fatal accidents. IJnfortunately, FAKS does not routinely collect data on
                        many of these elements, and no specific provision is made for them on
                        the FARS data collection instrument. For some elements, information is
                        available only when accident investigators specifically report them as
                        “contributing factors.” Therefore, we can report some information, but
                        we do not have a good sense of the completeness of the data.


Accidents and Traffic   Most fatal accidents-about       89 percent-occur  where there are no traf-
Controls                fit controls. (See table \‘.2.) Whether controls are present or not, fatal
                        accidents tend to follow the overall trend. However, when individual
                        types of traffic controls are considered, trend differences do appear.
                        Accidents occurring where there are stop signals-either      lights or stop
                        signs-follow     the overall trend. However, accidents where railroad sig-
                        nals exist are on the decline while accidents where only yield signals
                        exist are ,just as clearly increasing. Accidents where other unidentified
                        types of traffic controls existed increased steadily from 1975 through
                         1980 and then decreased rapidly through 1982 to the earlier level, and
                        they have been rather constant since. Accidents where existing traffic
                        controls were not functioning have always been few.




                        Page 88                     GAO, PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
Appendix V

Statistics Related to the Driving Environment


                     Elements of the driving environment-such       as weather, time of day,
                     and type of roadway-can      also contribute to fatal motor vehicle acci-
                     dents. In this appendix, we discuss various aspects of the driving envi-
                     ronment and their relationship to fatality trends. Since most legislation
                     addressing environmental issues has addressed roadway conditions and
                     roadway hazards, WCaddress the roadways first. Finally, we discuss
                     elements that legislat,ion cannot address directly-such    as weather and
                     time of day-but t,hat , like speed limits, can be addressed through local
                     law enforcement. Since exposure information specifically related to
                     environmental conditions was not readily available and since many of
                     the phenomena discussed occur infrequently, we discuss only the basic
                     accident frequencies.


                     Most fatal motor vehicle accidents occur on major roads such as LJS-
Fatal Accidents by   numbered and stat<>-numbered routes and similar major arteries. (See
Type of Roadway      figure V. 1.) Local, c.ount.y, and other roads are the locations for the next
                     highest number. Thts f(wcst accidents occur on limited-access highways
                     or freeways. In nearly all the years covered by our analysis, over five
                     times as many fatal accaidcnts occurred on major roads as on limited-
                     access highways, and over four times as many occurred on local roads.
                     These ratios have remained fairly constant over the years, although the
                     ratio of major highway to limited-access highway accidents is declining
                     somewhat. This suggests that speed-limit legislation addressing only lim-
                     ited-access highways is not necessarily the optimal method of cutting
                     the number of fatal accidents.

                     Fatal accidents on hmitcd-access highways are becoming more of a prob-
                     lem in recent years, however. Although fatal accidents on both limited-
                     access highways and major roads tend to follow the overall trend, acci-
                     dents on limited-access highways have been increasing at a faster rate
                     since 1983. The number of’ fatal accidents on limited-access highways
                     has increased slightly over 15 percent since 1983, while the number on
                     major roads has inc~rcascd only a little over 5 percent. However, recent
                     NIWSA reports indicate that a large part of the fatality increase stems
                     from increased travc,l on limited-access highways and that the fatality
                     rate per miles travc>kd shows a much smaller rate of increase. Fatal
                     accidents on local roads have increased over 10 percent since 1983, the
                      1987 total of 18,200 accidc,nts being only about 700 less than for the
                      1981 peak year for s11c.11
                                               accidents.




                     Page 80           GAO PEMD-YO-IO Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                     Appendix N
                                                                     Vrhicle.Rc=latrd     Statistics




Figure        IV.18: Vehicle       Fatalities       With Principal    Rearend      Impact
1600


1500


1400


1300


1200


1100


1000


 900


   1975                1978              1977          1979          1979         1980            1981          1992        1983         1984          1985        19aa          1987




Figure        IV.19:   Vehicle         Fatalities   From Noncollision        Accidents
5590          Number   of Faialiiles


5090



4500



4000



3500



3oao



2500

       1975            1976               1977         1978          1979          1980            1981         1982        1983             1984      1995         1988         1987




                                                                      The types of vehicles involved in fatal accidents has been changing over
 Conclusions                                                          the years. More and more small cars are involved in fatal motor vehicle


                                                                      Page 84                          GAO ‘PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   197587
                                                                                     Appendix IV
                                                                                     Vehicle-Related                Statistics




                                                                                     trend. When only principal impact is considered, however, such fatali-
                                                                                     ties have been generally on the decline since 1979. Fatalities from non-
                                                                                     collision accidents, after an initial decline from 1975 through 1978, have
                                                                                     been steadily increasing since then, an increase of more than 70 percent.
                                                                                     (See figure IV.19 on page 84.)



Figure         IV.16    Vehicle     Fatalities           by Direction               of Initial        Impact’
30000          Number   of Deaths



25000



20000     -




   l ===.... l =..=.=............gg,,*m~                                                                  l m.m.mm.....m...mmm,..mmm..mm.mmm..m.mmm                                 l mmmmmmmmmmm
 woo
          m-1-1--1--              -111--1------1---11-IIIIIL-ll-l---l-ll------------------------------------------------
    0


        1975            197s              19Tr                  1978                  1979                 1980              1981         1982       1983        1984        1985         1986         1987



               -         Head-on
               -1-1      Rearend
               -         Side
               mm..      other




                                                                                      Page 82                                    GAO/PEMD-90.10   Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                    Appendix IV
                    Vehicle-Related   Statistics




Automobiles         The number of fatalities in automobiles tends to follow the overall trend
                    in fatal automobile accidents. However, like the number of accidents.
                    there are differences according to size of automobile. The number of
                    fatalities in full-size automobiles has decreased more than 50 percent
                    since the peak year of 1978. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities in
                    intermediate cars more than doubled from 1975 through 1981 and then
                    declined slightly. The number of fatalities in small automobiles has
                    increased steadily since 1975, only 1 year showing any decrease. This
                    trend toward increase is apparent regardless of the type of small
                    automobile.


Trucks              The number of fatalities in trucks has been rather steadily increasing
                    over the years but the increase is dominated by fatalities in van-based
                    light trucks and conventional pickup trucks. Fatalities in trucks
                    approached their highest level in 1987, reflecting an increase of about
                    47 percent since 1975. Fatalities in light trucks account for a substantial
                    proportion of these fatalities and, in turn, fatalities in conventional pick-
                    ups account for most of the light truck fatalities. The number of all light
                    truck fatalities in 1987 was almost 65 percent higher than in 1975; the
                    number of fatalities in van-based trucks was also almost 65 percent
                    higher than in 1975, as were the number in conventional pickups. How-
                    ever, the number of fatalities in medium and heavy trucks increased
                    from 1975 through 1978, but they have since declined about 40 percent
                    to a low in 1987 that was almost 20 percent less than in 1975.


Other Vehicles      Motorcycle fatalities follow a trend similar to that for medium and
                    heavy trucks. After increasing more than 60 percent from 1975 through
                    1980, motorcycle fatalities declined more than 20 percent through 1987.
                    The number of fatalities on buses has never been large, generally
                    accounting for only :3Clto 40 fatalities per year.

                                             -      ~~
                     One of the Subcommittee’s requests was that we inquire into the use of
Vehicle Tires and    studded tires and their effects, if any, on fatal accidents. The FARS sys-
Fatal Accidents      tem, unfortunately, does not routinely collect information on the effects
                     of tires on fatal accidrnts: there are no specified elements on the F'AKS
                     data collection instrllmcnts to collect data on tires. Some data on tires is
                     collected but only whcsn accident investigators use a miscellaneous cate-
                     gory called “related factors.” We analyzed the “related factors” vari-
                     ables and found that, over the years, tires are being reported less and
                     less as a contributing factor in fatal motor vehicle accidents. (See figure


                     Page SO                       (GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safely:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   147587
                                                     Appendix IV
                                                     Vehicle-Related      Statistics




Table IV.1: Vehicles   Involved   in Fatal Accidents
Type 01 vehicle           1975      1976     1977         1976          1979           1960     1981     1982       1983        1984      1985       1986        1987
AutomobIles
  Small                  5,046      5,627     6,506       7,451      8,603         9795       11041     10,628     11,572     13,272    14,571     16,806      18,022
  lntermedlate           2,638      2,810     3,133       3,964      4,945         5597        6036      5,359      5,291      5,664     5,488      5,718       5,717
  Full-sized            17,942     17,830    18,967      19,983     19.!%0        18.501      17 193.   147368     13,092     12,752    11,512     11,532      10,403
  Sueunknown            12,299     10,819    10,321       9,035      6,763         5065        4451.     4,332     3 686       3,295      2,972     2,532       2,802
Total                  37,925     37,066    38,927      40,433     39,901        38,958       38,721    34,687f33,641         34,983    34,543    36,588       36,944
Trucks
  Van-based light        1,208      1,186     1446        1,831         2,037          2041     1989     1,775      1,663       1,779    1,853       2,001      2,305
  ConventIonal
    pIckup               6,916     7,710     8.548        9,668        10.331     10.566       10,105    8,970      8,853      9,497     9,850     10,601      11,471
  Medlumorheavy
      truck             4,570      4,958     5,724       6,333      6,421         5589         5,603     4.880      5,159      5.479     5,565       5,468      5,466
Total                  12,694     13,854    15,718      17,832     18,789        18,196       17,697    15,625     15,675     16,755    17,268     18,070      19,242
Motorcycles             3,265      3 343     4,164       4,643       4,916 5,194               4,963      4,495  4,302         4,659     4,608   4,571          4,062
Buses                      327        319       321         372        347    330                 342       289    307            320       337    286             354
Other vehicles           1,323      1,333     1246          725        682    693                 816     1 227. 1,059          1,144     1,323  1218            1,147
Total vehicles         55,534     56,084    60,516      64,144     64,762 %3,485              62,699    56,455 55,106         57,972    58,271 60,792          61,825




Automobiles                                           While the fact that aut,omobiles have been the most frequent vehicle
                                                      type involved in Fatal accidents is important in itself, breaking down
                                                      automobiles by size shows even more interesting results. After increas-
                                                      ing slightly from 1975 through 1978, the number of full-size automobiles
                                                      in fatal accidents declined almost 50 percent from 1978 through 1987.
                                                      The number of intermediate automobiles involved in fatal accidents
                                                      increased steadily from 1975 through 1981, increasing over 125 percent.
                                                      Since 1981. the number of intermediate automobiles in accidents has
                                                      fluctuated; the number in 1987 was slightly below that in the 1981 peak
                                                      year. The number of small automobiles in fatal accidents has been stead-
                                                      ily on the increascl. The number of minisize automobiles has increased
                                                      about 150 percent o\‘tr 1975, the number of subcompact cars has
                                                      increased almost 200 percent, and the number of compact cars has
                                                      increased about 750 pcrccnt.


Trucks                                                Trend patterns for trucks involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents are
                                                      related to truck t ypt’. The number of medium and heavy trucks tends to
                                                      follow the overall trend. while the number of light. trucks and vans is on
                                                      the increase to such a degree that their numbers tend to dominate the
                                                      overall total tru(.k t rr,nd. The number of light, trucks and vans in fatal


                                                      Page 78                          GAO,PEMD-90-10    Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway    Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                 Appmdix     IV
                                                                 VehicleRelated    Statistics




                                                                 and less has been steadily declining since 1978. However, while trucks
                                                                 11 to 15 years old underwent a similar decline in the rate from 1978
                                                                 through 1982. the rate increased significantly from 1982 to 1987.



Figure IV.13: Automobiles                 in Fatal Accidents      by Age
50      Accidmls     per 109,099     Regislered Automobiles




30




 1975              1976            1977          197s          1979         1980          1981      1982       1983        1984        1985         1986         1987



        -          5 years and under
        ----       6-10yearS
        m          11-15 years
        nnnn       16yearsandolder




                                                                 Page 76                    GAO, PRMD~!JClO Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                     Appendix IV
                                                     Vehicle-Related   Statistics




                                                     The age of vehicles has always been a matter of concern because older
The Age of Vehicles                                  vehicles tend not to be as well maintained as newer vehicles. Moreover,
Involved in Fatal                                    older vehicles do not have all the safety devices mandated by changes in
Accidents                                            motor vehicle safety standards over the years. Since data on age for
                                                     vehicles on the nation’s highways were readily available only for auto-
                                                     mobiles and trucks, we have restricted this analysis to these types of
                                                     vehicles.

                                                     The average age of both automobiles and trucks has been steadily
                                                     increasing since 1975, although it has leveled off in recent years. During
                                                     this time, the average age of trucks has been consistently older than that
                                                     of automobiles. However! the average age of automobiles involved in
                                                     fatal motor vehicle accidents tends to be older than the average age of
                                                     trucks in such accidents. For automobiles, the average ages of vehicles
                                                     on the road and of the vehicles involved in fatal accidents are almost the
                                                     same, but since 1983 there has been a slight divergence. (See figure
                                                     IV.11.) The same pattern is not prevalent for trucks; the average age has
                                                     been consistently older than the average age of trucks involved in acci-
                                                     dents. (See figure IV. 12 )



Figure IV.1 1: The Average         Age of All Automobiles    and of Those in Fatal Accidents
6.0   Average   Age   In Years




      -         Automobiles   in Atidents
      ----      Automobiles   on the Roads




                                                      Page 74                       GAOIPEMD-90.10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                              Appendix IV
                                              Vehicle-Related    Statistics




                                              1983-a decline of over 25 percent-and then increased about 10 per-
                                              cent from 1983 through 1986. (See figure IV.10.) Although the fatality
                                              rate for occupants of medium and heavy trucks did increase slightly in
                                              1984, the rate’s overall trend declines, having declined almost 40 per-
                                              cent since 1980.


Figure IV.8: Truck Fatality   Rates by Type
of Trucka
                                              350    Fstali(y Rate pr Million Trudm


                                              300




                                              2w




                                               50
                                                IWO               1981            1982          1983             1334              1985             1924



                                                     -          AllTrudts
                                                     ----       Van-basedTrucks
                                                     m          Conventional Pickups
                                                     nnnn       Mediumand Heavy Trucks

                                               The number of registered trucks was not available by type for years prior to 1979




                                              Page 72                     GAO,‘PEMB90-10   Highway     Safety: Trends in Highway     Fatalities   1975.87
                                                                                   ~_~ ~~__
                                           .4ppcndii IV
                                           Vehicle-Related    Statistics




Figure IV.6: Fatality   Rates by Size of
Automobilea                                350    FataWes per Milliin Automobiles



                                           300



                                           250



                                           200



                                           150




                                                  -          Small
                                                  -I--       Intermediate
                                                  m          Full

                                           ‘The nlrmber of regstered        autornobks   was not available by we for years prior to 1978




                                           Page 70                         (iAO/PEMD-9010     Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                             Appendix IV
                                             Vehicle-Related   Statistics




Figure IV.4: Fatal Accident   Rate by Type
of Light Trucka
                                             550 Involvsmenl Rale pr Million Trucks

                                             500

                                             4!50
                                                                                                                           wwd.lw.-----
                                                                                                  -.mlll.----
                                             400

                                             350

                                             300

                                             250

                                             200

                                             150

                                                                                                       1983                 1904              1995            ,986
                                                1980             1991               1982


                                                       -       van-based Trucks
                                                       ----    Cawntional Pi&ups
                                                       -       All Light Trucks

                                              ‘The number 01 reglslered      trucks thy type was not available for years prior to 1979




                                              Page 68                       GAO,‘PEMD-90-10     Highway         Safety:   Trends in Highway    Fatalities   1975-87
                                              Appendix IV
                                              V&irk-Related        Statistics




Figure IV.2 Fatal Accident   Rate for Small
Automobile9
                                              650      Rate per Million   Automobiles




                                              300


                                              250 -


                                                1976            1979             1990           1981        1962             1983      1984         1995         1985



                                                       -          All Small Automobiles
                                                       -w-w       Minisize




                                              ‘The number of reglsiered          aut~,mob~l~es by size was not available for years pr,or to 1978


Trucks                                        Fatal motor vehicle accident involvement rates for trucks show interest-
                                              ing patterns. (See figure IV.3.) The trucks with the highest involvement
                                              rate in fatal motor vehicle accidents are medium and heavy trucks. Van-
                                              based light trucks have the lowest involvement rate. Overall truck
                                              involvement in fatal accidents has been steadily declining since 1980,
                                              only 1 year showing an increase in the rate of involvement. While the
                                              involvement, of light trucks overall is also declining, the involvement of
                                              conventional pickups has been increasing since 1983. (See figure IV.4 on
                                              page 68.) The involvement rate for conventional pickup trucks is sub-
                                              stantially higher t ban that for van-based light trucks, and conventional
                                              pickup trucks cxctrt the greatest influence on the overall involvement
                                              ratL>for light truc,ks While the involvement rate for medium and heavy
                                              trucks is the highest of all truck sizes. this rate also has declined since
                                               1980. (See figurcb I\?? on page 69.) However, the bulk of this decline
                                              occurred in only 1 year: otherwise, the involvement has been rather con-
                                              stant, especially from 1982 through 1986.




                                              Page 66                           (&W     fPEMD-90-10    Highway     Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
Appendix I\

Vehicle-RelatedStatistics


                       In this appendix, we address several issues related to motor vehicles,
                       including accident involvement rates and fatality rates by type of vehi-
                       cle. the effects of t,htkc,hanging combination of vehicle sizes and the
                       aging of vehicles. and how fatalities depend on the type of collision. The
                       discussion on involvement rates and fatality rates is limited to automo-
                       biles and trucks, since registration information is not readily available
                       for other types of vc+iclcs.


                       The number of full-sizcl automobiles in fatal accidents declined at the
Fatal Accident         same time that there were significant increases in the number of small
Involvement Rates by   and int.ermcdiatc cars involved in Fatal accidents. The question arises,
Type and Size of       therefore, as to wh(%hc)r t,his indicates inherent safety differences by
                       size of automobile or \vhtt her the accident numbers simply reflect the
Vehicle                changing composition of vehicle types the public drives. Relating the
                       numbers of accidents 1o the number of registered vehicles helps answer
                       this question.’ In some cases, the trends in involvement rates and fatal-
                       ity rates are generally the same as the absolute numbers (for example,
                       full-size automobil(    whereas in others the rates show a trend com-
                       pletely the reversr of t,hc absolut,e numbers (for example, small and
                       intermediate automc)bilrs).


Automobiles            The increases notcbd in the number of small and intermediate automo-
                       biles involved in fatal accidents are not apparent when t,he increase in
                       the number of these automobiles on the roads is taken into account. (See
                       figure IV. 1.) It is also interesting that while the accident involvement
                       rate for intermediate automobiles was the highest by far in 1978, it has
                       declined so rapidly-almost         a 50.percent decline since 1978-that by
                       1986 the rate for thc,sclcars was the lowest. This figure also clearly
                       shows that the fat al accident involvement rate for small automobiles is
                       now higher than for c,ither intermediate or full-size cars. The fatal acci-
                       dent involvement rat t‘ for full-size automobiles \vas the lowest in most
                       years but did not show the same continued decline as the number of
                       such aut,omobilcs. As a consequence, full-sizr aut,omobiles no longer
                       have the lowest fatality rate.




                       Paye 64           GAO, PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
            -
                                           Appendix III
                                           Driver-Related   Statistics




Figure 111.13:Occupants Killed Who Were Using Safety Restraints
60 Percent Killed When ibtmints Were Used




25




     -          Drivers
     1-11       Passengers




                                            The overall trend-increases     through 1980, decreases through 1983,
Conclusions                                 and then increases through 1987-applies not to all but to many driver-
                                            related statistics. Drivers clearly are the greater part of motor vehicle
                                            fatalities, and male drivers dominate in involvement in fatal accidents,
                                            whether viewed in simple numbers or as rates of involvement in fatal
                                            accidents. However, more females are becoming involved in fatal
                                            accidents.

                                            Prinking drivers are still a very serious traffic safety problem, but FARS
                                            data do not disclose any trends that diverge much from the overall
                                            trend. Our analysis of the number of fatalities related to single-vehicle
                                            nighttime accidents, a common surrogate measure for drinking drivers,
                                            shows that the reported number of drinking drivers may be more accu-
                                            rate than is generally believed.




                                            Page 62                      GAO:PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                              Appendix III
                                              Driver-Related   Statistics




Figure 111.11:Motor Vehicle Occupants   in Fatal Accidents     Reported       Not Using Safety Restraints
90   Percent   of   occupanto




     -          Drivers
     -9--       Passengers



                                              Has the greater use of safety restraints been reflected in fatality pat-
                                              terns‘? Comparing fatality data to use patterns shows that, while the
                                              percentage of drivers not using safety restraints who are killed has been
                                              steadily increasing, the percentage of drivers who used restraints and
                                              were killed anyway has been steadily declining. (See figures III.12-
                                              111.14.)Moreover, while the percentage of passengers not, using safety
                                              restraints who are killed has tended to follow the overall trend, the per-
                                              centage of drivers who used restraints and wcrc killed has also been
                                              steadily declining. Since the percentage of both drivers and passengers
                                              killed whose safety restraint usage is unknown has also been declining,
                                              a case can be made that many whose rest rain1 nsagc is unknown proba-
                                              bly are using them.




                                              Page 60                       GAO/PEMl)-90-10   Highsvay Safely:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
Figure     111.9:Motor Vehicle Occupants   in Fatal Accidents   Reported    Using Safety Restraints
30   Percent       of ocCupants



25




         -          Dwers
         I - - -    b.SSenQerS




                                                  Page 58                  GAO PEMD-SO-10 Highway     Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalitirs   1975-W
-
    Appendix III
    Driver-Related   Statistics




    drinking, so the FAKS data are not as useful as one would like. Data
    reporting on drinking drivers is improving, however, and NHWA has
    recently used analytical t.echniques to obtain measures that offset inade-
    quate reporting.’ Nevertheless, some insights into drinking as a factor in
    fatal accidents are available.

    Since 1977, more than 35 percent of the fatal accidents reported
    involved the presence of at least one drinking driver. (See figure 111.8.)
    Between 2 and 3 percent of those accidents involved two or more drink-
    ing drivers. The number of fatal accidents involving drinking drivers-
    whether one or two or more such drivers-tends       to follow the overall
    trend, especially since 1977. In our opinion: 1975 and 1976 reflect data
    collection problems morr‘ than a better drinking-driver record for those
    years. Because of the reporting problems connected with drinking driv-
    ers, we determined the trend in the number of fatalities related to single-
    vehicle nightt,ime accidents, a common surrogate measure for drinking
    drivers. This analysis shows that the rates were not very different.
    Therefore, we believe the reported number of drinking drivers may be
    more accurate than is g:c>ncrallybelieved.




    Page 56                       GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                    Appendix III
                    Driver-Related   Statistics




                    increases and decreases in the number of male drivers in fatal accidents
                    after 1983, the 1987 total was the lowest for the period of our study.
                    The number of female drivers in this age group in fatal accidents tends
                    to follow the overall trend. The number of female drivers involved in
                    fatal accidents in 1987 is almost 20 percent higher than the low of 1975
                    but about 10 percent lower than the high of 1978.

                    There are also significant differences between male and female drivers
                    in the 21. through 25year-old age group. While the involvement of both
                    groups tended to follow the overall trend, the involvement of female
                    drivers increased dramatically after 1982. The involvement of male
                    drivers showed modest increases after 1983, and the total for 1987 was
                    the second lowest number of male drivers in this age group involved in
                    fatal accidents. The number of female drivers for this age group
                    involved in fatal accidents in 1987 was the highest so far, and it was
                    almost 40 percent higher than the low of 1975. The male total for 1987
                    was about 3 percent lower than 1975 and more than 20 percent below
                    the peak year of 1979.

                    For both male and female drivers in the 26. through 50.year-old age
                    group, the number involved in fatal accidents in 1987 was the highest on
                    record. However, the number of female drivers in this age group
                    increased over 50 percent since 1975, while the number of male drivers
                    increased only about 20 percent. Moreover, the number of male drivers
                    in this age group involved in fatal accidents decreased in 4 different
                    years, but the numb(xr for female drivers decreased only once.

                    Male and female drivers in the 5 l- to 65-year-old age group also show
                    differences. Male involvement for this age group has tended to follow
                    the overall trend; female involvement, while erratic. has shown a gen-
                    eral tendency to increase since 1975. The number of male drivers of this
                    age involved in fatal accidents has decreased about 6 percent since
                    1975, while the nurnb(>r of female drivers has increased about 18 per-
                    caent.Only for the ox cr-65 age group does the involvement, of male and
                    female drivers show similar trends, and both are on the increase. The
                    involvement of fcmalc drivers in this age group has almost doubled
                    since 1975, while ttrc number of male drivers has increased over 20
                    percent.

                    _____~-                          ~~~~
                    The speed of vehicles involved in fatal traffic accidents is a measure of
Speed of Vehicles   driver behavior. IJnl’ortunately, speed is also difficult to measure, and
                    for all years of our analysis, the speed of about 55 to 60 percent of the


                    Page 54                       GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                              Appendix III
                                              Drivrr-Related      Statistics




Figure 111.6:Female Driver Fatal Accident   Rate by Age Group
175 Rate per Million Population




  1975          1976         1977   1976     1979          1990                1961     1962       1963             1984      1966         1986          1967


         -      Under21
         mm-.   Age2160
         -      Age5165
         ,‘.a   OklerThm65


                                              While the fatal accident rate for male drivers of nearly all age groups
                                              tends to follow the overall trend, the rate for females has increased
                                              rather steadily across all age groups, especially since 1982. The year
                                              1987 showed the highest rate of involvement per million population for
                                              all female age groups.

                                              AMaledrivers are involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents about four
Age and Gender of                             t,imes as often as femak drivers. (See table 111.2.)However, while the
Driver                                        number of male drivers involved in fatal accidents tends to follow the
                                              overall trend, the number of female drivers has been increasing since
                                              1975. Nonetheless, the increase for female drivers since 1975 is not
                                              spread evenly over all age groups. Moreover, analyzing male drivers by
                                              age group shows that the overall trend also is not applicable to all age
                                              groups. The number of female drivers under age 16 involved in fatal
                                              accidents in 1987 was over 40 percent more than in 1975, while the
                                              number of malt dri\-crs this age was about 18 percent less than in 1976.
                                              In neither case were’ many drivers involved, however, so this trend
                                              exerted little influencx~ on the difference in the overall trend.



                                               Page 52                          GAO PEMD-W-10   Highway   Safety:    Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
Figure 111.4:Fatal Accident                 Rate for Drivers Older Than 65
175         Rate per Million   Population


im




146


140


     1975            1976            1977         1978      1979       1960   1961      1962         1963             1964       1985         1966         1967




Involvement Rates by Age                                     The distribution of fat a1 xcidertt involvement across age groups is dif-
and Gender                                                   ferwt for male and fcSm;rlcdrivers. (Set figures III.5 and 111.6.)The rates
                                                             for malts range from slightly over 300 fatal accidents per million popu-
                                                             lation for those older t hatt 6.5 to a high of 900 to 1.100 per million for
                                                             tlrc 1% to 20.year-old agesgroup. Females have the same high and low
                                                             age groups, but the drtr,cit, involvement rates are less than 80 per million
                                                             for the older femaks and from about 200 to 300 per million for the
                                                             younger group.




                                                             Page 50           GAO PEMI)-90    10 Highway   Safety:     Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-X7
                                                Appendix III
                                                Driver-Related   Statistics




Figure 111.2:Driver Fatal Accident    Rates Related to 1975 Base Year by Gender’
130   Percent of 1975 aas%Year Rate




      -       Male
      ----    Female

                                                “Percentages are the relation 01 Ihe number of drivers involved in fatal accldents each year to the
                                                number of drivers wwolved in 1975


Involvement Rates by Age                        There is a wide divergence in driver involvement in fatal accidents
                                                across age groups. In 1987. fatal accidents ranged from fewer than 200
                                                per million population for those older than 65 to a high of generally
                                                almost 600 per million for the 1% to 20-year-old age group. The involve-
                                                ment rate generally declines as drivers get older. (See table III. 1.) With
                                                some variations, trends for all age groups tend to follow the overall
                                                trend, the under- 16, 16 and 17.year-old, and over-M-year-old drivers
                                                being the principal exceptions. The interesting difference about the pat-
                                                tern for 16- and 17-year-olds is the increase in the rate of involvement
                                                since 1982. (See figure 111.3.)The rnte increased from about, 340 per mil-
                                                lion population in that year to about 440 per million in 1987, an increase
                                                of over 25 percent. After generally declining from 1975 through 1982,
                                                the rate of driver involvement in fatal accidents for those older than 65
                                                increased about 16 percent from 1982 through 1987, 1987 having the
                                                highest involvement rate cm record. (See figure 111.4.)




                                                 Page 48                      GAO/PEMI)-W-10   Highway   Safety:   Treuds in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
Appendix III

briver-Related Statistics


                       As discussed in appendix I, motor vehicle safety legislation has been
                       directed at three principal targets-the   driver, the vehicle, and the driv-
                       ing environment. The F.%RS  system was designed to collect data on these
                       three areas. In this appendix, we discuss information obtained from FARS
                       that pertains to drivers. We will discuss such items as driver-involve-
                       ment rates, age and gender of drivers, vehicle speed (where known),
                       drinking drivers, and the use of safety restraints.

                       -
                           Analysis of driver involvement per million population gives a reasonable
Driver-Involvement         measure of whether there are real differences in fatal accident experi-
Rates                      ence for various driver age and gender groups or whether they are
                           merely a reflection of differences in population growth patterns.’ The
                           trend for the overall driver-involvement rate follows the overall trend.


Involvement Rates by       The involvement of malt3 drivers per million population is generally four
Gender                     to five times the female rate. (See figure 111.1.)The involvement of males
                           overall tends to follow the overall trend, while the involvement of
                           females has been on the increase, especially since 1982. The involve-
                           ment rate of females scclmcd to be following the overall trend through
                           1982. but since then, the female driver involvement rate has increased
                           over 20 percent, and 1987 is the highest involvement rate for females on
                           record. (See figure III.‘?. )




                           Page 46           GAO, I’EMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                        Appendix 11
                                        General Fatal Accident     Statistics




Table 11.6: Pedestrian Fatalities by Age and Gender
Gender                Age group           1975 1976 1977 1970 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986                                    1987
Male
                      Under21            1,694 1,633 1,549 1.621 1621 1,535 1,339 1,272 1,163 1,149 1,070 1,097-                        1,029
                      21~50              1.661 1.646 1760 1933 2138 2169 2291 2238 2.077 2.175 2.022 2.167                              2141
                      Older than 50      1,831 1,786 1,930 1,841 1824 1,786 1689 1,534 1,452 1,597 1,484 1,418                          1,542
                      Aaeunknown            60     55    92    99    118   123   140   100   83    95    95     a9                         66
Total                                    5,196 5,120 5,3j;  5,494 5,701 5,613 5,459 5,144 4,775 5,016 4,671 4,771                       4,778
Female
                   Under21            877      874    852    821         777    725   684    651     578     560        571      521      495
                   21-50              498      515    532    589         640    689   668    723     618     582        629      619      636
                   Older than 50      921   892   976   855   927   989   923   777   834   829   904   a34   ais
                   Aaeunknown           23    26   40    31    47     51    57    34   20    34     29   30     19
Total                               2,319 2,307 2,400 2,296 2,391 2,454 2,332 2,185 2,050 2,005 2,133 2,004 1,966
Unknown                                  1     0     1     5     4     3   46      2     1     4     4     4     2
Total fatalities                    7,516 7,427 7,732 7,795 8,096 8,070 7,837 7,331 6,826 7,025 6,808 6,779 6.746




Fatalities by Gender                        Like motor vehicle fatalities in general, pedestrian fatalities for males
                                            are consistently mart’ than twice the number for females. In 1987. malts
                                            accounted for 71 percent of these fatalities, while females accounted for
                                            only 29 percent. When age considerations are ignored, both male and
                                            female pedestrian fatalities have showed substantial declines since their
                                            peak years of 1979 and 1980.


Fatalities by Age                           *Just as there were differences in the pedestrian fatality trends for male
                                            and female irrespective of age, there are also some differences in the
                                            trends by age irrespective of gender. We analyzed fatalities by three age
                                            categories-namely.     ( 1 1under 21 years old, (2) ages 21-50, and (3) over
                                            age 50. In 1987, thcsc age categories accounted for 23, 41, and 35 per-
                                            cent of pedestrian fatalities, respectively. None of the age groups for
                                            pedestrian fatalities follows the overall t,rend very closely, but the pat-
                                            terns of divergence vary considerably. Pedestrian fatalities for persons
                                            younger than under age 2 1 have been steadily declining since 1975, only
                                            1978 showing any imrease at all. Unlike for the younger age group, the
                                            year 1987 for persons age 21 through 50 is not the lowest fatality year.
                                            Pedestrian fatalities fog the 21. through SO-year-old age group show a
                                            rather steady pattern of increase from 1975 through 1981 but have
                                            decreased slightly since then. The 1987 total of almost 2,800 still
                                            exceeds the 1975 low y’ear-by over 30 percent. Pedestrian fatalities for


                                            Page 44              GAO ‘PEMD-90-10 Highway    Safety: Trends in Highway    Fatalities    1975.87
                                                      Appendix II
                                                      General Fatal Accident    Statistics




 Figure 11.11: Fatalities        for Ages 51-65 by Gendera
 12      Percent   ihviathm   Fmm lOYear   Average

 10
     8
     a
     4
     2
  0

 -2

 -4
 4

 -0

-10
12

-14




         n          Male
                    Female

                                                      ‘Percentages   are normalized as percentage devlahons from the 13.year average of annual fatalltles


                                                      The group older than 65 shows the greatest departure of all from the
                                                      overall trend, especially for female fatalities. After varying little from
                                                      1975 through 1983, these increased about 25 percent from 1983 to 1987
                                                      and to a level over 30-percent higher than 1975. The percentage increase
                                                      in male fatalities since 1982 was not nearly as large. (See figure 11.12.)




                                                      Page   42                GAO:PEMD-90-10       Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                    Appendix II
                                                    General Fatal Accident   Statistics




Figure 11.9: Fatalities       for Ages 21-25 by GendeP
16    Percent   Deviation   From 13-Year Average

12




-16




                                                    ‘Percentages   are normalbed as percentage   dwatlons   from the 13 year average of annual fatalltles


                                                    The 26-50 group showed similar experiences for both male and female
                                                    until 1980 or 1981. Thereafter, the difference was such that female
                                                    fatalities reached a peak in 1987 that was about 13-percent higher than
                                                    the previous peak of 1980; male fatalities in 1987 were still below the
                                                    previous peak year. (See figure 11.10.)




                                                     Page 40                 GAOjPEMD-90-10       Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway      Fatalities   1975-87
                                                    Appendix II
                                                    General Fatal Accident    Statistics




Figure 11.7:Fatalities       for Ages 16-17 by Gendera
30    Petcent   Devlallon   From X&Year   Average

25

20

15

10

  5

  0

 -5

-10

-15

-20

-25




                                                    ‘Percentages   are normalized as percentage   dwatlons   from the 13~year average of annual fatalltles


                                                    The group 18-20 shows similar trends for both genders but does not
                                                    show the marked increases since 1983 that are characteristic of the
                                                    overall trend. The principal difference between male and female is that
                                                    while female fatalities continued to decline after 1985, male fatalities
                                                    increased slightly after 1985. (See figure 11.8.)




                                                    Page 38                  GAO, PEMD-9010       Highway    Safety: Trends in Highway      Fatalities   1975.87
                                                   Appendix II
                                                   Genrrzd Fatal Accident       Statistics




Other Vehicles                                     One-vehicle fatal accidents involving other vehicles declined steadily
                                                   from 1975 through 1981.” In 1982, one-vehicle accidents involving other
                                                   vehicles more than doubled, principally because of a dramatic increase
                                                   in the number of vehicles reported with unknown body types. Since
                                                   1982, the number of other vehicles in one-vehicle accidents declined,
                                                   reaching a low in 1987. In 1987, other vehicles accounted for about 3
                                                   percent of the vehicles involved in one-vehicle fatal accidents.


                                                   Who is being killed in motor vehicle accidents and are there differing
The Age and Gender                                 trends when fatalities are analyzed by age and gender? Table II.5 shows
of Fatalities                                      the distribution of motor vehicle accident fatalities by age and gender.


Table 11.5: Fatalities by Age and Gender
Gender      Age group         1975   1976   1977   1976   1979   1960   1981   1982   1983   1984   1985   1986   1987
Male
            Under16          3,336  3,183  3 065  3,123  2,943   2,802 2,465  2,269  2,251   2,257 2,274   2,391 2,460
            16-17            2,161  2,299  2 386  2,504  2,452   2,258 2,030   1,722  1,567  1,580  1.532  1,861  1,780
            18-20            4,781  4,895  5221    5,387 5,546   5430  4,775  4,268  3,901   3,990 3,592   3,918  3,690
            21-25            5,513   5,730 6251    6,765  7,089  7 176 6,883  6,134  5,700   5,894 5,876   6,033  5,608
            26-50            9,941  9,932 10566 11,730 12,352 12,646 12,808 11,291 11,011 11,425 11.370 12,233 12.449
            51-65            3,673  3,786 3865     3,858 3,876   3,623 3,689  3,232  3,099   3,200 3,141   3,078 3,272
            Older than 65    3,135  3,087  3 082  3,161  3,097 - 3,033 3,039  2,790  2,831  3,012  2,997  3,175  3.262
            Unknownage          135    126    191    203    233    224    241    173    139    183    177    167    107
Total                       32,675 33,038 34,627 36,731 37,588 37,392 35,930 31,879 30,499 31,541 30,959 32,856 32,628
Female
               Under16          1,899  1,921   1966  1,893   1,789    1,700 1,515 1,438  1,336  1,367  1,438 1,448  1,444
               16~17               790    8%     980    973    999      996   807   658    680    715    716    856   896
               18-20            1.240  1,437   1514   1,608  1,536    1,496 1,461 1,334  1,264  1,242  1,237  1,233 1,199
               21~25            1,311  1,387   1,663  1.817  1,748 ~~ 1,844 1,801 1,582  1,560  1,650  1,623  1,623 1,643
               26-50            3,065  3,101  3.309  3,545  3,750    3.876  3,819 3,538 3,633  3,872  3,827  3,933  4,384
               51-65            1,606  1,688  1765    1,752  1,677    1,712 1,706 1.502  1,587  1,633  1,657  1,634 1,652
               Older than 65     1,865  1,984  1,951  1,917  1,913    1,965 1,954 1,942  1,977 2,171  2,289  2,399  2,489
               Unknownage           68     64    100     86     86 -    100    98    68     47     59     69     65     36
Total                          11,844 12,481 13,248 13,591 13,498 13,689 13,161 12,062 12,084 12,709 12,856 13,191 13,743
Unknown                             6        4        3         9           7           10      210             4             6        7       10           40        15
Total
  fatalities                   44,525   45,523   47,878   50,331    51,093       51,091      49,301   43,945        42,589        44,257   43,825    46,087      46,386




                                                    ‘Includes such vehicles as snl,wmobilfs,nontruck farm equipment, all-terrain vehicles, nontruck con-
                                                    struction rquipment, go carts, fork lifts, city strut sweepers, and unknown other vehicles



                                                    Page 36                     GAO/P&MD4@10          Highway       Safety:   Trends in Highway     Fatalities   1975-37
                            Appendix II
                            General Fatal Accident   Statistics




                            It is very apparent that the principal reason for the increase in truck
                            involvement in one-vehicle fatal accidents was the increasing involve-
                            ment of light trucks and vans.:’ In fact, except for 1983 and 1984, the
                            involvement of medium and heavy trucks in one-vehicle fatal accidents
                            has been on the decline since 1979. One-vehicle fatal accidents involving
                            automobiles have also been generally declining since 1980, with the
                            exception of increases in 1984 and 1986.

One-Vehicle Accidents and   While there are no unusual departures from the overall trend for total
Automobile Size             automobile involvement. since 1983, automobiles in one-car fatal acci-
                            dents by size of automobile give a different picture.’ While the number
                            of small cars involved in such accidents is on the increase, the involve-
                            ment of full-size cars is on the decrease. (See figure 11.6.) The involve-
                            ment of intermediate cars in one-vehicle fatal accidents increased almost
                            100 percent between 1976 and 1980, but the number has declined more
                            than 10 percent since then. In 1987, almost 50 percent of the automo-
                            biles involved in onevchicle fatal accidents were small cars; about 15
                            percent were intermediate cars, and about 27 percent were full-sized
                            cars.




                             Page 34                 GAO, PEMD-SO-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                       Appendix II
                                                       General Fatal Accident     Statistics




Table 11.2: Fatalities   bv Role
Role                      -1975     1976      1977         1976     1979         1960           1961      1962       1963       1964      1965       1966        1967
DWer                      23,652   24,500    26,170       28,283   28,863       28.816         28,200    24,690     24,138     25,589    25,337     26,630      26,831
Passenger                 12,169   12,497    12,873       13,108   12,964       12972          12,055    10,867     10,595      10,586    10,619     11,498      11,618
Pedestrian                7,516     7,427     7,732       7,795     8,096        8,070          7,037     7,331      6,826       7,025     6,808      6779        6,746
All others                 1,188     1,099     1,103       1,145     1,170        1.233          1,209     1,057      1,030      1,057     1,061      1,180       1,191
Total fatalities         44,525    45,523    47,676      50,331    51,093       51,091         49,301    43,945     42,569     44,527    43,625     46,067      46,366




                                                       Just as most fatal motor vehicle accidents result in only one fatality,
Fatal Accidents by                                     most fatal motor vehicle accidents also involve only one vehicle. (See
Number of Vehicles                                     table 11.3.) In 1987, one-vehicle accidents accounted for 58 percent of the
Involved                                               accidents involving fatalities. Two-vehicle accidents accounted for 36
                                                       percent, accidents with three or more vehicles about 6 percent. One-
                                                       vehicle fatal accidents have consistently exceeded the second largest
                                                       number-two-vehicle      fatal accidents-by over 60 percent and have con-
                                                       sistently exceeded all multivehicle accidents combined by over 40
                                                       percent.


Table 11.3: Fatal Accidents    by Number of Vehicles         Involved
                                                                                   --
Number of vehicles         1975     1976      1977         1976      1979        1980           1981      1982       1983       1984      1985        1986       1987
None’                        567      618       668          752       886         862            934         0          0          0         0           0          0
Ge-                       23,651   24,100    24,890       25.768    26,374      27 424         25,898    23,851     23,048     23,697    22,875      24,275     24,159
Two                       13,375   13,465    14,866       15,894    16,013      15,301         15,283    13,573     13,420     14,066    14,249      14,568     14,909
Three                      1,290    1,322     1,445        1,681     1,604       1 392           1,533     1,365     1,371       1,520     1.675       1,816      1913
Four                         210    186    241    248    254    215    263    226                                       223    243           287    311             317
Five                          45     33     72     60     61     49     53     55                                        61     68            71     82              93
More than fwe                 23     23     29     30     31     21-    36     22                                        33     37            39     38              44
Total accidents          39,161 39,747 42,211 44,433 45,223 45,284 44,000 39,092                                    37,976 39,631        39,196 41,090          41,435
                                                       "From 1975 through 1981 the FARS data flies vx3uded cases I” which no record of the number of
                                                       vehicles was reported These ::ases show zero vehicles in accidents and number fewer than 1,000 per
                                                       year


                                                       However, there are differences in the trends for one-vehicle versus mul-
                                                       tivehicle accidents. One- and two-vehicle fatal accidents show similar
                                                       trend directions. but two-vehicle accidents have higher percentage
                                                       swings. Accidents with three or more vehicles increased about 50 per-
                                                       cent from 1975 though 1987. What is interesting about these accidents is
                                                       that while they showed trend patterns similar to one- and two-vehicle
                                                       fatal accidents in the early years, fatal accidents involving three or more



                                                       Page 32                   GAO!PEMD-W-10            Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway    Fatalities   197547
                       Appendix I1
                       General Fatal Accident   Statistics




                       older than 65 increased from 189 to 208 per million population, an
                       increase of about 10 percent.

                       Fatality rates by age and gender taken together show that for all age
                       groups, the rate for males is significantly higher than that for females.
                       In fact, the fatality rate for males is a minimum of about 50 percent
                       higher than that for females and, in many cases, is close to three times
                       the rate for females. The fatality rates for males 16 through 20 are of
                       special concern. The rate for 16- and l7-year-old males has never been
                       lower than 410 per million population, and in 1978, it exceeded 570. The
                       rat,e for 1% to 20-year-old males has never been below 600 per million
                       population and in 1979 it, was almost 840. The rates for females in the
                       same age group never exceeded 250 per million population. The fatality
                       rates for both males and females younger than 16 have declined dramat-
                       ically over the years, even though they have increased slightly since
                        1983.

                       Nearly all the other age and gender fatality rate trends approximate the
                       overall trend, but thrrc exceptions related to females deserve mention.
                       The female fatality rate for 16- and 17-year-olds has strongly influenced
                       the overall rate for this age group since 1983. The fatality rate for
                       females of this age group increased from a little over 170 per million
                       population in 1982 to over 240 per million in 1987, an increase of almost
                       40 percent. The 1987 rate was exceeded only by the 1980 rate, but 1980
                       and 1987 were essentially the same. The experience for males of this age
                       group is not nearly as dramatic. After reaching a low rate of 411 per
                       million in 1983, thtl rate for males increased only a little over 10 percent
                       through 1987. The fatality rate for females 51 through 65, while small
                       in comparison to others, has increased almost 13 percent since 1982, and
                       the rate for females older than 65 has increased about 17 percent since
                        1983. Increases for males of these age groups were only about 7 percent
                       and 5 percent. respcbctively.


                       As mentioned earlier. the number of motor vehicle fatalities exceeds the
Fatalities Per Fatal   number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. To determine the effect that
Accident               multifatality accidents exert on the overall number of motor vehicle
                       fatalities, we analyzed both the average numbers of deaths per accident
                       and the trends for various numbers of deaths per accident. Although
                       there has been a genciral decline in the average number of fatalities per
                       accident since 1976. r.hr decline is somewhat misleading, since the rate
                       varies so little in amount, from the smallest to the largest. Most fatal
                       accidents clearly ha\~ only one fatality. In 1987, over 90 percent of the


                       Page 30                  GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                                    Appendii  II
                                                    General Fatal Accident    Statistics




Figure 11.4: Fatalities   Per Million Population
230      Fatality Rate



220




210




290




199




180


  1975           1976      1977        1979        1979        1980          1981          1992      1983             1984       1985         1996          1987




                                                    Page 28                   GAO/PEMD-90-10      Highway   Safety:     Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                                                     Appendix II
                                                     General Fatal Accident   Statistics




                                                     accident rate per 100 million miles driven shows a continuing decline
                                                     since 1980, fatal accidents per 10,000 vehicles and per 10,000 drivers
                                                     show mixed patterns of increase and decrease since 1983. (See figure
                                                     11.2.) The rate per 10,000 vehicles increased in 1984, decreased in 1985,
                                                     increased again in 1986, and then decreased again in 1987. While the
                                                     1985 rate was lower than that for 1983, both the 1986 and 1987 rates
                                                     were higher. The fatal accident rate per 10,000 drivers has generally
                                                     been on the increase since 1983, with the exception of slight decreases in
                                                      1985 and 1987.



Figure     11.2:Fatal Accident     Rate Trends
4.0      Rate




         -       Rate per 10,000 Vehides
         ----    Rate per 10,000 Driven
         m       Rate per 100 Million Miles Driven
                                                      Source Park   data lrom Nai ondl Safety Council, Acadent   Facts 1988 EdItIon (Chicago, III 1988)



                                                      When only fatalities in fatal accidents are considered, similar patterns
Fatality Rate Trends                                  occur. (See figure 11.3.) The fatality rate per 100 million miles driven has
                                                      continued to decline, w?th the exception of a small increase in 1986,
                                                      while the rates per 10.000 vehicles and per 10,000 drivers show mixed
                                                      increase-decrease l)att(rns after 1983.



                                                      Page   26               GAO PEMD-90.10 Highway        Safety: Trends   in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
Appendix II

General Fatal Accident Statistics


                Much has been written about the number of motor-vehicle-related fatali-
Introduction    ties over the past several years. The FAKS system enables us to look at
                these fatalities and to study them in some depth. Data are available for
                1975 through 1987. In this appendix, we discuss general fatal accident
                statistics that are not necessarily related to the specific elements of
                motor vehicle safety discussed in appendix I-namely, the driver, the
                vehicle, and the highway environment. We discuss the overall trend in
                motor-vehicle-related fatalities, some special aspects of the overall trend
                such as the roles of the persons killed (driver, passenger, pedestrian,
                and so on), and certain fatality rate information related to general meas-
                ures of exposure to motor vehicle accidents.

                Since 1975, the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents, the number of
                fatalities, and the number of motor vehicles involved in fatal accidents
                have reflected very similar patterns. All three trends show steady
                growth from 1975 through 1978 or 1979, followed by substantial
                declines through 1983 and then growth again through 1987. (See figure
                II. 1.) The number of fatal motor vehicle accidents grew from about
                39,000 in 1975 to about 45,000 in 1980-81 and then fell to about 38,000
                accidents in 1983. Sincr, 1983, the number of fatal accidents has again
                been on the increase. growing to about 41,000 in 1987. The number of
                fatalities grew from about 44,500 in 1975 to a high of about 51,000 in
                1980 and 1981 before falling to about 43,000 in 1983. After 1983, the
                number of fatalities rose to about 46,500 in 1987. The number of vehi-
                cles involved in fatal accidents increased from about 56,000 in 1975 to
                about 65,000 in 1978 and 1979, fell to about 55,000 in 1983, and then
                rose again to about Ci2.000 in 1987.’




                Page 24           GAO PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety: Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
                        Appendix I
                        Background




                        Vehicle Manufacturers Association publications, and vehicle registration
                        data came from computer files maintained by NITSA.'

                        Our review was made in accordance with generally accepted govern-
                        ment auditing standards and included the tests we considered necessary
                        to assure ourselves of the reliability of the FARS computer-based data.

                                        ____~
                        Fundamental to the purposes of NH'I‘SA is the collection of accident data
Accident Data Sources   that can identify safety problems, suggest solutions, and provide an
                        ob.jective basis for evaluating the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety
                        standards and highway safety countermeasures. To this end, NHTSA has
                        developed and used various systems to collect data on motor vehicle
                        accidents. The principal data collection systems NHTSA uses are FARS and
                        the National Accident Sampling System (NASS). In this report, we use
                        FARS data-created     to analyze fatal accidents-for  our analysis, since
                        the sampling errors associated with NASS data are often too large to dis-
                        ccrn whether apparent trends over time are legitimate.

                        FAKS was conceived, designed, and developed by the National Center for
                        Statistics and Analysis of NFITSA to provide, through data on fatalities,
                        an overall measure of highway safety. The system was also intended to
                        identify traffic safety problems, suggest solutions, and help provide an
                        otjjective basis for evaluating the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety
                        standards and highway safety programs. An agency official commenting
                        on a draft of this report stressed that FARS is an outcome data base, since
                        a fatality must have occurred before an accident qualifies for inclusion.
                        This official also stressed that because FARS is an outcome data base, it,
                        must be used with care to avoid overgeneralizing to all accidents from
                        data biased toward fatalities. FEARSis a census of all fatal motor vehicle
                        accidents occurring throughout the nation.

                        After 3 years of system development, FAKS became operational for calen-
                        dar year 1975, when the 50 states, Puerto Rico. and the District of
                        Columbia began collecting and assimilating fatal highway accident data.
                        13-4~ data differ from some other fatal accident statistics such as those
                        of the National Safety C’ouncil because of the definitions used for fatal
                        accidents. To qualify for inclusion in FARS, an accident must involve a
                        motor vehicle traveling on a road customarily open to the public and it
                        must have resulted in the death of a person-whether        an occupant of a
                                               Appendix I
                                               Background




Table 1.2: Summary   of Legislative   Safety
Concerns                                       Area                                                      Statute (Public Law)                      Year
                                               Vehicle
                                                 PromotIon of safety in manufacturing vehicles                          84-627                     1956
                                                  Brake fltld standards                                              ~~ 87-637                     1962
                                                  Seat belt standards                                                   88-201                     1963
                                                  l&or vehicle safety standards                                         89-563                     1966
                                                  Rzatlonship between equpment performance                              89-563                     1966
                                                     and accidents and fnju y
                                                 Vehicle reglstratlon, operatlon and&spectlon                           89-564                     1966
                                                  Fuel economy standards                                                94-163                     1975
                                                  Child safety seats                                                    68-263                     1984
                                                  Length and width of Irrxks                                            98-554                     1984
                                                  Inspection of trucks                                                  98-554                     1984
                                               Driver
                                                  study of speed llmlt enforcement and need for                         i4-627                    ~1956
                                                     uniform safety and speed laws
                                                  Driver registry                                                       86-660                    -1960
                                                  Expanded driver registry                                              89-563                     1966
                                                  Study of relatIonshIp betaeer alcohol                                 89-564          ~-         Ii66
                                                     consumption and highflay safety
                                                  Improvement of driver performance                                  89-564                        1966
                                                  NatIonal speed Ilrnit                                   93-239 and 93-643                        1974
                                                  NatIonal minimum drlnklrig age                                        98-363                     1984
                                               Environment
                                                  Study of need for uniform speed llrnlt                             84-627                         1956
                                                  Study of design and characterlshcs of hlrjhiiy                     84-627                         1956
                                                  HIghway design and maintenance                                     89-564                         1966
                                                  Surveillance to find ihigh accident locatlons                      89-564                         1966
                                                  Harardousmater~als                                      93-633 and 98-559                   1975, 1984


                                               While safe vehicks are important to motor vehicle safety, research con-
                                               ducted after the 1%X primary safety legislation on motor vehicles sug-
                                               gests that other factors may be more important. In a 1979 Indiana
                                               tTniversity study. pc>rformed under a contract from KHTSA, the research-
                                               ers concluded that human factors were the leading causes of automobile
                                               accidents (93 pclrcc’nt ), followed by highway environment (34 percent)
                                               and vehicle factors ( 13 percent).’ Most of the vehicle-related factors
                                               involved vchiclc deterioration rather than vehicle design. and they could
                                               have been avoidcsd with proper inspection and maintenance procedures,




                                               Page 20               GAO/PEMD-90-10    Highway     Safety: Trends in Highway     Fatalitirs      197647
Appendix I

Background


                                                 The Kational Safety Council reports that, since 1948, there have been
                                                 almost 100,000 accidental deaths per year and, on the average, almost
                                                 half of those deaths resulted from motor vehicle accidents.’ Motor vehi-
                                                 cle accidents are the leading cause of accidental death overall and the
                                                 leading cause of accidental death for persons age 1 to 74. For persons 75
                                                 and older, motor vehicle accidents are exceeded only by deaths resulting
                                                 from falls. Deaths from motor vehicle accidents are a special problem
                                                 for youths. In 1984, for persons 15-24, almost 40 percent of deaths from
                                                 all causes resulted from motor vehicle accidents, and motor vehicle acci-
                                                 dents accounted for almost three fourths of all accidental deaths for
                                                 that age group (see table 1.1).


Table 1.1: Relationship   of Accidental   Deaths to Total Deaths in 1984
                                                                                                     Total deaths Motor vehicle deaths as
                                                                                                      from motor         a percent of
                                                    Total deaths from        ~ Percent of total            vehicle  Accidental        Total
Age group                                      All causes       All accidents          deaths           accidents       deaths      deaths
Under1 year                                          39.580                 838            2 12%                161        1921%       041%
1-4                                                  7372              2814              38 17                    977              3472           1325
514                                                  9.076             4 198             46 25                  2,263              5391           2493
15-24                                               38,817            19,801             51 01                 14738               7443           3797
2544                                               112,484           25,498              2267                  15.036              58 97          1337
45-64                                              404,568            15,273              378                   6.954              4553            172
6574                                               476570              8,424              177                   3,020              3585            063
75 and older                                       950.902            16065               1 69                  3,114               1938           033
Total deaths                                    2,039,369            92,911               4.56%               46,263               49.79%          2.27%


                                                 The National Safety Council has gathered statistics on deaths from
                                                 motor vehicle accidents as far back as 1913. There has been a rather
                                                 steady climb in the number of such deaths since then, the years since
                                                 World War II showing especially large losses. At the same time, how-
                                                 ever, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of drivers and
                                                 motor vehicles on the, nation’s highways and a like increase in the
                                                 number of miles those drivers and vehicles travel each year. Conse-
                                                 quently, the rate of motor vehicle deaths-whether         related to drivers,
                                                 vehicles, or miles travr%led-has generally been declining. Nevertheless,
                                                 the rate of decline has not kept pace with the rate of decline for other
                                                 types of accidental d&h, and the sheer number of deaths from motor
                                                 vchiclc accidents r,;rc,hyear is still a matter for national concern.




                                                  Page 1R              GAO PEED-90.10   Highway    Safely:   Trrnds   in Highway    Fatalities   1975.87
Figure    V.6:   Vehicles Involved in Bridge Accidents                                          93
Figure    V.7:   Fatal Accidents by Day of the Week                                             94
Figure    V.8:   Fatal Accidents by the Time of Day                                             96
Figure    V.9:   Fatal Accidents by Season of the Year                                          97




Abbreviations

DUT          Department of Transportation
FA’AKS       Fatal Accident, Keporting System
w.0          L1.S.General Accounting Office
h-ASS        National Accident Sampling System
UHTSA        National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Page 16               GAO/PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
          Table IV. 1: Vehicles Involved in Fatal Accidents                                        78
          Table IV.2: Fatalities by Type of Vehicle                                                79
          Table V. 1: Fatal Accidents by Road Surface Condition                                    87
          Table V.2: Fatal Accidents by Type of Traffic Control                                    89
          Table V.3: Fatal Accidents by Type of Weather Condition                                  93
          Table V.4: Vehicle Trips and Miles in 1983 by Day of the                                 95
              Week
          Table V.5: Relationship of 1983 Accidents to Vehicle Miles                               96
               Traveled by Time of Day
          Table V.6: Relationship of 1983 Accidents to Vehicle Miles                               97
               Traveled by Swson

Figures   Figure II. 1:Kumber of Awidents, Vehicles, and Deaths in                                 25
               Fatal Accidents
          Figure 11.2: Fatal Awident Kate Trends                                                   26
          Figure 11.3: Fatality Rate Trends                                                        27
          Figure 11.4:Fatalities Per Million Population                                            28
          Figure 11.5:Fatalities Per Million Population by Gender                                  29
          Figure 11.6:One-Vc3hic.k Fatal Automobile Accidents by                                   35
               Automobile Siw
          Figure 11.7:Fatalities for Ages 16-17 by Gender                                          38
          Figure 11.8:Fatalit iw for Ages 18-20 by Gender                                          39
          Figure 11.9:Fatalities t’or Ages 21-25 by Gender                                         40
          Figure II. 10: Fatali t its for Ages 26-50 by Gender                                     41
          Figure II. 11: Fatalities for Ages 51-65 by Gender                                       42
          Figure 11.12: Fatalit,ios for Ages 65 and Older by Gender                                43
          Figure III. 1: Drivw Fatal Accident Rates by Gender                                      47
          Figure 111.2:Driver Fatal Accident Rates Related to 1975                                 48
               Base Year by Gctndcr
          Figure 111.3:Fatal I1c’cidtwt Rate for Drivers 16 and 17                                  49
          Figure 111.4:Fatal .icxidwt Rate for Drivers Older Than                                   50
               65
          Figure 111.5:Male IJriver Fatal Accident Rate by Age                                      51
               Group
          Figure 111.6:Fern&s Driver Fatal Accident Rate by Age                                     52
               Group
          Figure 111.7:Speed of’ Vehicles in Fatal Accidents                                        55
          Figure 111.8:Drinking Drivers Reported in FARS                                            57
               Compared to Single-Vehicle Nighttime Accidents
          Figure 111.9:,Motor \‘&iclc Occupants in Fatal Accidents                                  58
               Reported 1Tsing S;lt’cty Restraints




          Page 14          GAO   PEMWSO-10 Highway   Safely:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.H7
Contents


Letter                                                                                                                   1

Appendix I                                                                                                             18
Background                   Legislative History                                                                       19
                             Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                                        21
                             Accident Data Sources                                                                     22
                             The Contribution of This Report                                                           23

Appendix II                                                                                                            24
General Fatal Accident       Introduction                                                                              24
                             Fatal Accident Rate Trends                                                                25
Statistics                   Fatality Rate Trends                                                                      26
                             Fatality Rates Per Million Population                                                     27
                             Fatalities Per Fatal Accident                                                             30
                             Fatalities by Person’s Role                                                               31
                             Fatal Accidents by Number of Vehicles Involved                                            32
                             The Age and Gender of Fatalities                                                          36
                             Pedestrian Fatalities                                                                     43
                             Conclusions                                                                               45

Appendix III                                                                                                            46
Driver-Related               Driver-Involvement Rates                                                                   46
                             Age and Gender of Driver                                                                   52
Statistics                   Speed of Vehicles                                                                          54
                             Drinking Drivers                                                                           55
                             The ITse of Safety Restraint,s                                                             57
                             Conclusions                                                                                62
                         -
Appendix IV                                                                                                             64
Vehicle-Related              Fatal Accident Involvement Rates by Type and Size of                                       64
                                  Vehicle
Statistics                   Fatality Rate by Type and Size of Vehicle                                                  69
                             The Age of Vehicles Involved in Fatal Accidents                                            74
                             The Types of Vehicles Involved in Fatal Accidents                                          77
                             Fatalities by Type of Vehicle Involved                                                     79
                             Vehicle Tires and Fatal Accidents                                                          80
                             Vehicle Fatalities and Collisions                                                          81
                             Conclusions                                                                                84




                             Page 12           GAO, PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
B237223




If you have any questions or would like additional information, please
call me at (202) 2751854 or Dr. Michael J. Wargo, Director of Program
Evaluation in Physical Systems Areas, at (202) 275-3092. Other major
contributors to this report are listed in appendix VI.

Sincerely yours,




Eleanor Chelimskl
Assistant Comptroller General




Page 10            GAO/PEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-87
                                      R-237223




                                      and freeway signs, roadside hazards, and narrow bridges. The number
                                      of fatal accidents related to roadside hazards and narrow bridges
                                      appears to be steadily declining. Accidents where only “yield’‘-type traf-
                                      fic controls exist are on the increase. Freeway accidents have increased,
                                      especially where no traffic controls are present (more than a 15percent
                                      increase since 1982). but fatal accidents have increased most on local,
                                      county, and other roads. We were not, however, able to adjust these data
                                      by exposure measures. because we could not obtain annual data reflect-
                                      ing any changes in travel patterns on these roads. Table 4 highlights the
                                      environment-related statistics that show increases of 20 percent or
                                      more, either from the 1975 base year or from the low year associated
                                      with the upturn in the overall trend in 1982 or 1983. Additional envi-
                                      ronment-related trend statistics are contained in appendix V.

Table 4: Highlights of Environment-
Related Fatal Accident Statistic&                                                                  Percent increase        in 1987
                                      Variable                                                Over 1975                       Over 1982-03
                                      LImIted access roadway                                       25 40
                                      Sto~&G                                                                                             22 10
                                      Yield traffvc controls                                           43 42
                                      Some freeway sign controls                                                                         30 38
                                      SIG                                                              48 75
                                      DaYtIme    ~-                                                                                      20 10
                                      ‘Blank cells ~nd~calethat the rate of change did not exceed 20 percent
                                      ’ Base year IS 1981

                                      With regard to specific Subcommittee concerns, our review disclosed the
                                      following.

                                      Narrow bridges have not been a factor in many fatal accidents, and the
                                      number of such accidents has been steadily decreasing.

                                      Accidents tend to follow the overall trend, whether or not traffic con-
                                      trols are present; only roadways involving yield signs show increases in
                                      fatal accidents. Most accidents occur where no traffic controls are pre-
                                      sent. Accidents where existing traffic controls were not functioning
                                      have always been small in number.

                                      Over 80 percent of all fatal accidents occur on dry roads. Accidents on
                                      both wet and dry roads tend to follow the overall trend.




                                      Page 8                  GAO, PEMD-90-10 Highway        Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975.87
R-237223




heavy trucks have one of the lowest fatality rates for vehicle occupams.
they have one of the highest fatal accident involvement rates.

The average age of both automobiles and trucks has been increasing as
it applies to both t,hc number on the road and the age of vehicles
involved in fatal accidents. However, in 1976 through 1987, the period
of our study, vehicle age appears to have become less a factor in fatal
accidents for automobiles than for trucks.

The only accidents that show trends different from the overall trend are
rear-end collisions and noncollision accidents (such as overturns and
fire, where no impact to the vehicle occurs throughout an accident).
Both have increased more than 25 percent since 1982.

Table 3 highlights the vehicle-related statistics that, by 1987, showed
increases of 20 percent or more, either from the 1975 base year or from
the low year associated with the upturn in the overall trend in 1982 or
 1983. Appendix I\’ c*ontains additional information on vehicle-related
t,rends.




Page I3          GAOIPEMD-90-10   Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   1975-W
                                         R-237223




Table 1: Highlights of General   Fatal
Accident Statisticsa                                                                                 Percent increase          in 1987
                                         Variable                                               Over 1975                         Over 1982-83
                                         Number of vehicles involved
                                           Three                                                          48 29                              40 15
                                           Four                                                           50 95                              42 15
                                           Five                                                          10667                               69 09
                                           More than fl;e                                                 91 30                             100 00
                                         One-vehicle accidents
                                           Mlnlslze automoblles                                          13845                               1555
                                           Subcompact automoblles                                        171 79                              39 37
                                           Compact automoblles                                           61737                              19507
                                           T&al small automoblles                                        221 97                              54 95
                                           lntermedlate automobIles                                      -69 07
                                           V&based light trucks                                            49 29                             2631
                                           Conventional light trucks                                       56 35                             26 20
                                           Total light trucks                                              55 29                             26 21
                                           Total trucks                                                    40 68
                                           Motorcycles                                                     37 23
                                         ‘Blank cells Indicate that the pwcentage of change did not exceed 20 percent

                                         In addition to our analysis of overall fatality trends, we examined
                                         trends by various accident factors. We looked at factors associated with
                                         drivers (by age, gender, and use of safety restraints), vehicles (by type
                                         and size), and the roadway driving environment (by time of day and
                                         weather conditions). We found that the overall trend applies to many of
                                         the driver-related statistics discussed. One of the most revealing of these
                                         trends is the changing relationship between fatalities and safety
                                         restraint usage. Increased motor vehicle safety restraint use since 1979-
                                         80 appears to have saved t,he lives of many drivers and passengers. Fur-
                                         ther, the percentage of occupants not
                                                                             - using safety restraints who were
                                         killed has continued to inc,rease.

                                         Our analysis also shows that the rate of involvement of women drivers
                                         in fatal accidents has increased more than 20 percent since 1975 and
                                         that this rate of incrclas;e applies to nearly all female age groups.

                                         Drinking drivers arc’ a very serious traffic safety problem. However, a
                                         NITSA official pointed out that when analytical procedures are used to
                                         adjust for the large amount of missing data regarding the presence of
                                         drinking drivers, the, t~sults indicate that the percentage of drinking
                                         drivers in fatal accidents has been declining.



                                         Page 4                  GAO. PEMD-90-10 Highway       Safety:     Trends in Highway   Fatalities   197587
               B-237223




               of such deaths has climbed steadily, the years since World War II show-
               ing especially large losses. At the same time, however, there has been a
               steady increase in the number of drivers and motor vehicles on the
               nation’s highways and a similar increase in the number of miles those
               drivers and vehicles travel each year. Consequently, the rate of motor
               vehicle deaths-whether      related to drivers, vehicles, or miles trav-
               eled-has generally been declining. Nevertheless, the decline has not
               kept pace with the decline for other types of accidental death, and the
               absolute number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents each year is
               still a matter for national concern.

               Although we identified many instances of automobile safety research-
               including numerous SKI% studies using FARS-Very         little of that
               research discussed the changes in the characteristics of fatal accident
               statistics. Moreover. studies have compared specific fatal accident char-
               acteristics-such     as trucks versus cars or male versus female drivcrs-
               but these studies have tended to have a narrow focus. In addition,
               because of the difficult,y in obtaining accident-exposure information.
               only small amounts of information are available that compare accident
               fatality statistics to various measures of accident exposure, such as
               vehicle miles traveled, number of registered vehicles, or number of driv-
               ers. A NIITSA official’s comments on a draft of this report stressed that
               the lack of good exposure data is one of the ma,jor impediments to high
                way safety analysis. Our report attempts to fill some of these gaps by
                presenting information that is (1) based on fatal accident trends, (2)
               extensive in the accident characteristics discussed, and (3) related,
               where possible, to measures of accident cxposurc. A complete discussion
               of the legislative history, accident data sources, and our scope and meth-
                odology is contained in appendix I.


               Our analysis of fatal accident data from 1975 through 1987 indicated an
Our Analysis   increase in such accidents from 1975 to 1980, a decrease through 1982-
               83, and then an increase again through 1987. We refer throughout to
               this general increasing-decreasing-increasing pattern of fatalities as the
               overall trend. This pattern applies to many of the general fatality statis-
               tics we present, and, in all cases, it serves as a convenient yardstick for
               comparison, so that our discussion concentrates principally on patterns
               that depart from t 1~~overall trend, with particular attention to depar-
               tures that indicattx a worsening situation. In particular, we highlight
               trends that, by 1987, had resulted in (1) a greater than ZO-percent
               increase compared to 197.5 or (2) a greater than 20-percent increase



                Paye 2           GAO, PEMD-90-10 Highway   Safety:   Trends in Highway   Fatalities   197547