Safe Travels Despite that high figure, the annual rate is a big improvement over earlier years: The 2010 fatality rate, for example, is just one-third of the 1975 rate (1.11 fatalities per 100 million miles in 2010 versus 3.35 fatalities per 100 million miles in 1975). The reduced rate is believed to be due to newer safety features in passenger vehicles: air bags, anti-lock brakes and other improvements.
In 2011, 759 deaths in the United States were attributed to rail transit, according to the NTSB. Almost 500 of these deaths, however, were not passenger fatalities, but were pedestrians and people in cars stopped on rail right-of-ways. Some experts believe that as many as 20 percent of these deaths were suicides.
The NTSB data also found that 494 deaths in 2011 were attributed to aviation, including air taxis; 800 U.S. deaths were blamed on marine transportation, especially recreational boating.
Blood on the Tracks But compared with these three modes of transportation, highway travel is a bloodbath: The NTSB reports that 32,367 deaths in the United States were blamed on roadway accidents, including more than 4,400 pedestrian deaths. More than three-quarters of these deaths (25,865) involved passenger cars, motorcycles, light trucks and vans.