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Crash Data Systems

Fatality Analysis Reporting System

Additional Resources

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which became operational in 1975, contains data on 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 traffic way customarily open to the public, and must result in the death of a vehicle occupant or a nonoccupant within 30 days of the crash.

NHTSA has a cooperative agreement with an agency in each State’s government to provide information 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. The number of analysts varies by State, depending on the number of fatal crashes and the ease of obtaining data.

FARS data is obtained solely from the States’ existing documents:

  • Police Accident Reports
  • State Vehicle Registration Files
  • State Driver Licensing Files
  • State Highway Department Data
  • Vital Statistics
  • Death Certificates
  • Coroner/Medical Examiner Reports
  • Emergency Medical Service Reports
  • Other State Records

From these documents, the FARS analysts code more than 140 FARS data elements. The specific data elements may be modified slightly each year to conform to changing user needs, vehicle characteristics, and highway safety emphasis areas. The data collected within FARS does not include any personal identifying information, such as names, addresses, or social security numbers. Thus, any data kept in FARS files and made available to the public fully conforms to the Privacy Act.