Overall transportation fatalities continue to decline

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Marine and aviation fatalities were up in 2008 compared to 2007, though overall U.S. transportation deaths decreased by almost 10 percent, according to preliminary figures from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Marine deaths increased from 766 to 779, with the majority (709) occurring in recreational boating, the NTSB said. There were 685 recreational boating fatalities in 2007, according to the Coast Guard's 2008 recreational boating statistics.

Overall, however, this is the third consecutive year of declining transportation fatalities.

"While the statistics reveal an encouraging trend line, there is still much work to be done to ensure that fewer families each year will face losing a loved one in a transportation accident," NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement.

The data indicate that total transportation fatalities in all modes fell by almost 4,000, from 43,384 in 2007 to 39,397 in 2008. Along with a significant reduction in highway fatalities, rail and pipeline deaths also decreased.

Highway fatalities, which account for more than 94 percent of all transportation deaths, fell by 3,998, from 41,259 to 37,261.

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