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NTSB: Marine deaths increased in 2009

Although overall transportation fatalities in the United States decreased by 9.2 percent in 2009, a 4 percent increase was reported in marine fatalities, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,928 in 2009, compared with 39,569 in 2008. Although highway, rail and aviation deaths declined, pipeline and marine fatalities showed an increase.

Marine deaths increased from 783 to 817, with the vast majority (736) occurring in recreational boating. Other marine categories, including cargo transport and commercial fishing, also showed increases, although commercial passenger vessels showed a slight decrease.

"While statistics show that transportation fatalities have declined this past year, we continue to see far too many accidents in all segments of the transportation community," NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. "There is still much work to do to prevent the loss of life on our roads, rails, waterways and skies."

Highway fatalities, which account for nearly 95 percent of transportation deaths, decreased from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2009. In fact, highway fatalities decreased in all categories, including motorcycle fatalities, which had been on the rise in recent years.

Aviation deaths decreased from 574 to 538. Nearly 90 percent of aviation fatalities occurred in general aviation accidents, but they still represented a decrease from the previous year.

Rail fatalities decreased 4 percent, from 781 to 751. The vast majority of these fatalities occurred when people were struck by a rail vehicle.

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