Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)

Years Available
1975 to present
Mode of Collection
Census:Data are abstracted from official state records and sent to DOT.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) contains data from a census of fatal traffic crashes within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway customarily open to the public and must result in the death of at least one person (occupant of a vehicle or a non-motorist) within 30 days of the crash. FARS was developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (DOT, NHTSA) in 1975 to provide an overall measure of highway safety, to help identify traffic safety problems, and to help provide an objective basis to evaluate the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety standards and highway safety programs.
Selected Content
The FARS database contains descriptions, in a standardized format, of each fatal crash reported. Each crash has over 140 different coded elements (as of 2013) that characterize the crash, the vehicles, and the people involved. The specific data elements may be modified slightly each year to conform to changing user needs, vehicle characteristics, and highway safety emphasis areas.
Population Covered
The U.S. population.
NHTSA has a cooperative agreement with an agency in each State's government to provide information in a standard format on all qualifying fatal crashes in the State. These agreements are managed by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) State Data System, Office of Data Acquisition. Trained State employees, called FARS analysts, are responsible for gathering, translating, and transmitting their State's data to NCSA's standard format. Data sources include police accident reports, state vehicle registration files, state driver license files, state highway department data, vital statistics data, death certificates, Coroner/Medical Examiner reports, and emergency medical service reports. Automatic range and consistency checks are conducted by the system; NHTSA staff conduct additional quality control checks to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the data. An online query system, Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST), containing data back to 2004 is available for public use. Raw data back to 1975 is available for download in comma separated values (CSV) and Statistical Analysis System (SAS) formats.