At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides data on pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities, which may relate to research on the built environment for physical activity.
  • Data available on age, sex, and race/ethnicity of adult and child traffic fatality victims.
  • Data available on child safety restraint problems as a factor in fatalities.

Website

https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data/fatality-analysis-reporting-system-fars

Purpose

To collect data about factors behind motor vehicle traffic fatalities for individuals in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

Motor vehicle fatal traffic crashes in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Conducted

Began in 1975. Conducted annually. Most recent year conducted was 2018.

Sponsor

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

Special Note(s)

Contact:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Center for Statistics and Analysis
www.nhtsa.gov
1 (800) 934-8517

Sampling

Sample Design

Census of traffic fatalities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Sample Size

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) is a census of motor vehicle traffic fatalities and does not involve sampling. In 2010, approximately 32,885 fatalities were recorded. In 2010, an estimated 2.24 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.

Key Variables

Demographic

NameMethods of Assessment
AgeState reports
Race/ethnicityState reports based on police accident reports, vehicle registration files, driver licensing files, Highway Department data, vital statistics/death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, hospital medical reports, emergency medical service reports
SexState reports

Weight-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Driver height and weightState reports based on police accident reports, vehicle registration files, driver licensing files, Highway Department data, vital statistics/death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, hospital medical reports, emergency medical service reports

Geocode/Linkage

NameMethods of Assessment
State, city, county, zip codeN/A

Other

NameMethods of Assessment
Causes of traffic fatalitiesState reports
Child restraint usageState reports
Motor vehicle and driver fatalitiesState reports based on police accident reports, vehicle registration files, driver licensing files, Highway Department data, vital statistics/death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, hospital medical reports, emergency medical service reports
Pedal cyclist fatalitiesState reports
Pedestrian fatalitiesState reports

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain data at the FARS website. Specific data can be requested from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) with no charge for most requests. NCSA usually responds to data requests within 2 weeks, but more time may be required for complex or lengthy requests.

NHTSA also conducts research on other topics as well as maintains other databases: https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data

Cost

Free of charge.

Geocode/Linkage

Geocode Variable(s)

State, city, county, zip code.

Existing Linkages

FARS data on individual deaths have been linked to National Center for Health Statistics Multiple Cause of Death data on anatomic injuries noted on death certificate using a deterministic approach to linking the data based on factors such as age, sex, date of death, role in the crash, and state in which the injury occurred. Learn more.

Selected Publications

Full list of Publications by Categories

Physical Activity-Related

Baker SP, Waller A, Langlois J. Motor vehicle deaths in children: Geographic variations. Accident; Analysis and Prevention 1991;23(1):19-28.

Nicaj L, Stayton C, Mandel-Ricci J, McCarthy P, Grasso K, Woloch D, Kerker B. Bicyclist fatalities in New York City: 1996-2005. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2009;10(2):157-161.

Weight-Related

Decina LE, Lococo KH, Doyle CT. Child restraint use survey: Latch use and misuse. Washington (DC): National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, December 2006, DOT HS 810 679.

Hagedorn AV, Pritz HB. Evaluation of the CRABI 12-month-old infant dummy and its comparison with the TNO P3/4. Washington (DC): National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, February 1999, NHTSA Docket #99-5156.

Resources

Data Query System

Data Query Tool

Documentation/Codebook(s)

Full list of Manuals and Documentation

FARS Analytic Reference Guide

FARS Coding and Validation Manual

Presentation(s)

List of Presentations