1998-02-23

Why People Die in Motor Vehicle Crashes: Linking Detailed Causes of Death with FARS Data 980216

NHTSA's Fatal Crash Reporting System (FARS) collects information on all US fatal public roadway motor vehicle crashes.1 However, FARS contains only the information “K”(killed) as injury information for the individuals sustaining fatal injuries. This paper discusses how a 100 fold improvement in injury detail can be obtained with ICD-9 mortality information by linking FARS with the Vital Statistics Multiple Cause of Death (MCOD) database.2 This link, developed by NHTSA, is accomplished on an individual by individual basis. The FARS database contains about 40,000 individuals killed per year, and nearly 25 years of data available. A multi-year linked FARS-MCOD database can contain detailed cause of death for more than 1,000,000 motor vehicle fatalities. The linked FARS-MCOD allows the reasons why people die in MVC to be studied down to specific vehicle make/model combinations. This paper shows results for a sample year of linked FARS-MCOD data, 1989, to illustrate the type of data produced and some potential uses of the data.1,2 The linking of other years, and linking to even more detailed injury information is underway.

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