Injury Facts: Traffic Injury FAQs

Traffic Injury FAQs

Injury Facts is the complete Safety-statistic source for more than 90 years. At the National Safety Council, we're often asked:

  • How do you determine if a traffic incident is preventable?
  • Do traffic fatalitites follow a seasonal pattern?
  • What is the most dangerous mode of transportation?
  • What is the definition of a preventable incident?

    ​A preventable incident is one in which the driver failed to do everything that reasonably could have been done to avoid a collision, according to the Guide to Determine Motor Vehicle Accident Preventability, published by NSC.

    In other words, when a driver commits errors and/or fails to react reasonably to the errors of others, the Council considers an incident to be preventable. When a driver commits no errors and reacts reasonably to the errors of others, the Council considers the incident to be non-preventable.

    Safety officials further define preventability within the context of defensive driving. Defensive driving is "driving to save lives, time and money in spite of the conditions around us and the actions of others."

  • Do unintentional-injury deaths have any seasonal patterns?

    ​As shown on page 25 of Injury Facts 2017, several unintentional-injury events have seasonal patterns. Drowning deaths show a strong seasonal pattern: high in the summer, low in winter. Deaths from fires and flames show an equally strong but opposite seasonal pattern: low in summer, high in winter. Motor-vehicle crash deaths also have a pattern, which can be seen on page 129 of Injury Facts 2017.

  • What is the most dangerous mode of transportation?

    Injury Facts compares four modes of transportation: scheduled airlines, railroad passenger trains (including Amtrak and commutation), buses and light-duty vehicles, like passenger cars, light trucks, vans and sports utility vehicles regardless of wheelbase.

    In general, buses, trains and airlines have much lower death rates than light duty vehicles when the risk is expressed as passenger deaths per passenger mile of travel. Light duty vehicle drivers are considered passengers but operators and crew of planes, trains and buses are not.

    In 2013, the passenger death rate in light duty vehicles was 0.46 per 100 million passenger-miles. The rates for buses, trains and airlines were 0.04, 0.02, and 0.0, respectively. See page 156 in Injury Facts 2017 for more details.

  • How does the NSC determine holiday periods for traffic fatalities?

    The National Safety Council makes estimates of the number of traffic fatalities that could occur over selected holiday periods. The estimates are not meant to scare people into staying off the roads, but rather to inform them of the risks of holiday travel. The number of holiday related motor-vehicle deaths from 2011 through 2015 is available in Injury Facts.

    2017 Holiday Periods

    One to two weeks before the holiday period begins, NSC will issue estimates of the number of traffic fatalities that could occur over the following holidays:

    New Year's Day (2017) Begins6 p.m.Friday, Dec. 30, 2016
    Ends11:59 p.m.Monday, Jan. 2, 2017
    Memorial Day*  Begins6 p.m.,Friday, May 26
    Ends11:59 p.m.Monday, May 29
    Independence Day  Begins6 p.m.Friday, June 30
    Ends11:59 p.m.Tuesday, July 4
    Labor Day**  Begins6 p.m.Friday, Sept. 1
    Ends11:59 p.m.Monday, Sept. 4
    Thanksgiving Day***  Begins6 p.m.Wednesday, Nov. 22
    Ends11:59 p.m.Sunday, Nov. 26
    Christmas Day  Begins6 p.m.Friday, Dec. 22
    Ends11:59 p.m.Monday, Dec. 25
    New Year's Day (2018)  Begins6 p.m.Friday, Dec. 29           
    Ends11:59 p.m.Monday, Jan. 1, 2018
    Observed on the last Monday in May.
    Observed on the first Monday in September.
    Observed on the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Injury Facts 2017

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