05:04 PM ET 10/03/00 Highway Deaths Up Slightly in '99   By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID= Associated Press Writer=

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Highway deaths were up slightly, but overall the number of Americans killed in transportation-related accidents was nearly unchanged in 1999 from the year before.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that 43,986 people died in travel-related accidents in 1999. That was just two fewer than in 1998. Highway deaths climbed by 110 to 41,611, but there were declines in marine and railroad fatalities and there was little change in aviation deaths. The number of fatalities at railroad grade crossings declined from 431 in 1998 to 402 last year. Grade crossing deaths are included in the totals for highway or railroad accidents, the board said, depending on the circumstances of each fatality.

Highway deaths totaled 41,611 in 1999, up from 41,501 a year earlier. That includes 20,771 passenger-car fatalities, up from 21,141; 11,208 deaths in light trucks and vans, up from 10,665 and 2,471 on motorcycles, up from 2,292. The number of pedestrians killed declined from 5,228 in 1998 to 4,906 last year. There were also 746 people killed while riding bikes, down from 757 in 1998; 755 deaths in medium and heavy trucks, up from 739; 58 bus deaths, up from 38; and 696 people killed on other ways on the roads, up from 641.

Railroad deaths totaled 805, down from 831 in 1998. There were 530 people killed when struck by trains _ often trespassers on rail property _ down from 601. That total does not include grade crossing deaths. Rail deaths also included 43 employees and contractors, up from 34, and 14 passengers, up from four. Heavy transit and commuter rail accounted for 218 fatalities last year, up from 192 a year earlier.

Marine accidents cost 853 lives, down from 950 in 1998. Recreational boating remained the most dangerous category at 729 fatalities, but that was down from 815. There were 42 fatalities in cargo transport, down from 52; 46 commercial fishing deaths, down from 66; and 36 deaths among commercial boat passengers, up from 17 a year earlier.

Aviation claimed 691 lives, three more than in 1998. As usual, private planes were most at risk, with 628 fatalities, up from 623 in 1998. Airlines recorded 12 fatalities, 11 of them in the crash of American Airlines flight 1420 in Little Rock, Ark., on June 1, 1999. There had been just one airline fatality in 1998. The crash of EgyptAir flight 990 on Oct. 31 1999, killing all 217 aboard, occurred in international waters and is not included in the U.S. total. There were 38 deaths in air taxis last year; 12 commuter air deaths compared to none in 1998; and one death in a foreign aircraft here, down from 16.

Pipelines are also included in transportation and there were 26 pipeline-related accidental fatalities in 1999, up from 18 a year earlier.

On the Net : National Transportation Safety Board : http://www.ntsb.gov


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