Military Safety:

Analysis of DOD's On-Duty Non-aviation Accident Fatalities

NSIAD-99-14: Published: Oct 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 1998.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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GAO provided an analysis of the Department of Defense's (DOD) military personnel fatalities during 1988 through 1996 as a result of on-duty, non-aviation accidents, focusing on: (1) the causes of non-aviation fatalities; (2) the types of activities involved in these fatal accidents; and (3) trends in DOD and service on-duty accidental fatalities.

GAO noted that: (1) military vehicles were the leading cause of the 1,108 DOD military personnel fatalities that were attributable to on-duty, non-aviation accidents from 1988 to 1996; (2) vehicle accidents accounted for 466, or 42 percent, of these fatalities and resulted in more on-duty deaths than any other type of accident in each of the services except the Navy; (3) furthermore, Army vehicle accidents were responsible for 333 deaths, or 30 percent of DOD's non-aviation fatalities and 71 percent of DOD's vehicle accident fatalities; (4) the causes for the remaining 642 fatalities included accidents with explosives and weapons, parachuting, physical training, and other ground and sea activities; (5) military training activities were involved in 500 of the 1,108 on-duty accidental fatalities; (6) of these fatalities, 454 resulted from accidents involving individual or unit training, combat exercises, or afloat operations; (7) the remaining 46 fatalities involved students in the services' training school programs, such as initial recruit, infantry, and airborne training; (8) the other 608 on-duty accidental fatalities occurred in other activities, such as peace operations and maintenance and repair of vehicles and equipment; (9) DOD's on-duty, non-aviation accident fatality rate declined about 42 percent between 1988 and 1996, from 4.3 to 2.5 deaths per 100,000 non-aviation military personnel; (10) this decline is largely due to a decrease in the DOD vehicle accident fatality rate, from 1.9 to 1.0 deaths per 100,000 non-aviation military personnel; (11) the annual number of fatalities fluctuated over the period but declined overall from 139 in 1988 to 58 in 1996; and (12) the overall fatality rate and the annual vehicle fatality rate decreased for the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps but increased for the Air Force.

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