DOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
|Source||U.S. Department of Transportation|
|File Size||CSV: 2010-2014 (1.17 GB); 1994-2009 (3 GB)|
|Dates Covered||1994-2014 for this purchase; contact Database Library for 1975-1993 archive|
In 2010 the DOT dramatically changed the format of FARS; the database now consists of 18 tables that include a host of new fields. For this reason, 2010 – 2014 data is separate from 1994-2009.
The data is available in CSV format for all years; for 2010 – 2014 we also provide Access databases.
PLEASE read the documentation carefully when working with this database (or any database, really) — particularly the Readme.txt and the layout spreadsheets.
Record layouts and samples of this database
|Schema (up to 2009) (fars.pdf)||415.1 KB|
|Record layout (up to 2009) (FARS_layouts_94_09_1.xls)||77.0 KB|
|Record layout (2010-2014)(main tables) (MainLayouts.xls)||82.0 KB|
|Readme File (Readme_1.txt)||21.7 KB|
- Sources for Covering Auto Accidents
McGinty gives information on how to use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Accident Reporting System, or FARS. He covers why it exists, how comprehensive and accurate the data is, and how it is tructured.
- Investigating Trucking
This tipsheet is a comprehensive guide to reporting on the trucking industry. It begins with a list of questions to ask at the beginning of an investigation, like, “Did the truck driver have a valid Commercial Drivers License?” Next, the tipsheet lists some pieces of information that reporters should be able to find before deadline, that could make their stories better. Then, the tipsheet lists possible follow – up investigations; these are more long-term projects and might make for good enterprise stories. There is a description of how to go about each investigation. Finally, the tipsheet ends with a list of contacts and government agencies that could be helpful for a reporter writing a story about the trucking industry.
- Traffic Fatalities
This tipsheet is a basic overview of what resources to use when reporting on traffic fatalities. McGinty offers some background on FARS, paper documents and driving records, and then explains how all three can all be helpful when reporting on the topic.
- Strong Coffee: Using Databases to Investigate Drunken Driving
Branan explores the value of pursuing a story on drunk driving, including what databases are helpful in such an investigation, and how to verify and analyze the information.
- Deadly Driving
The Star-Telegram investigates the dangers of driving on Texas highways and interstates. A recent survey showed that several of Fort Worth’s heavily traveled highways have a high total of accidents and fatal car wrecks.
- Dying to Drive: Inexperience, speed can be deadly mix for teenage drivers, statistics show
According to the author, “The series analyzed fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in which at least one driver was between the ages of 14 and 19. Among the major findings: Speeding contributed to more than half of the wrecks. More than two-thirds of people killed in cars driven by teens were not wearing seat belts. More than half of the wrecks were single-vehicle crashes. More than three-quarters of the crashes involved sober drivers.”
- Harvest of Death
The story investigated the disproportionately high number of auto fatalities and injuries caused by Hispanic drivers, most of them seasonal migrant workers, on Virginia’s East Shore. Most of the accidents were alcohol related.
- Danger Zone
The Gazette investigation found that nearly half the fatal accidents on Interstate 80 in Iowa from 1994-2001 involved semi-trailer trucks. No other interstate in Iowa had a rate that high. Traffic counts are growing on a 60-70 mile stretch of I-80 in Eastern Iowa, where many of the semi-trailer trucks are concentrated. Despite the growth in traffic, state officials have no plans to improve safety by widening the highway because traffic counts are just shy of the threshold for widening the road.
- Deadly Roads: A Special Report
A special report from the Orlando Sentinel looks at the number of fatal accidents in the lesser travelled highways in Florida. Deliberating on fatal accidents on the Colonial Drive in Central Florida, the in-depth report reveals that even though the traffic on the highways has lessened, the rate of accidents remains high. As a result of this series, the highway police are beefing up security in the area and there have also been initiatives to rebuild certain sections.
- Dead Tired: On the Road with Weary Truckers
The Kansas City Star reports on the effects of deregulation on the trucking industry. As truckers work long hours for low pay, the result is disturbing: “Fatigue behind the wheel of 40-ton rigs is now so pervasive on American highways that drivers regularly nod off and drift into oncoming lanes or slam into the backs of slower-moving cars.” The series reveals that federal regulations have not solved the problem with truckers’ fatigue, and that the NAFTA agreement has left unaddressed the exhaustion of Mexican drivers, who sometimes drive for more than 24 hours. The analysis of accident databases has shown that many transportation companies with known safety problems have not been inspected by the government.
Dateline investigated “one of this year’s most controversial auto safety issues, revealing vital new information about the risk of deadly rollover accidents in sport utility vehicles. By researching historical records and personal accounts of auto industry insiders, Dateline documented that auto experts had serious concerns decades ago about the high risk of SUV rollovers.”
- Lives at risk: An emergency room investigation -Year two
WFAA-TV follows up its 2000 IRE Awards entry with this return investigation into Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith Hospital. Reporter Williams and producer Schucker continued their investigation, focusing on Dr. Lydia Grotti and her connection to suspicious and overlooked deaths in the emergency room. As a result of WFAA-TV’s investigation the Texas Department of Health began conducting its own investigation and discovered additional deaths that took place in the ER. The county district attorney’s office called in a special prosecutor to examine a total of eight suspicious deaths in connection with Dr. Grotti at the hospital.