Epidemiology of subway-related fatalities in New York City, 1990-2003

Robyn R.M. Gershon, Julie M. Pearson, Vijay Nandi, David Vlahov, Angela Bucciarelli-Prann, Melissa Tracy, Kenneth Tardiff, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem: Subway transit is a relatively safe mode of transportation, yet compared to all other forms of mass transit in the United States (U.S.), subways have the highest fatality rate. The aim of this paper is to characterize subway-related fatalities in order to identify opportunities for risk reduction. Method: Medical examiner records for all New York City (NYC) subway-related deaths (1990-2003) were reviewed. Data were abstracted on decedents' demographics and autopsy findings, including laboratory findings. Results: There were 668 subway-related fatalities, of these, 10 (1.5%) were homicides, 343 (51.3%) were determined to be suicides, and 315 (47.2%) were accidental. Although decedent characteristics varied between fatality categories, they were not particularly informative with regard to prevention. Conclusion: Prevention strategies that focus on structural controls are likely to be most efficacious in improving the overall safety of the NYC subway systems. Impact on industry: These findings suggest that structural rather than individual-level interventions would be most successful in preventing subway fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-588
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008


  • Accidents
  • Epidemiology
  • Fatalities
  • Subway
  • Suicides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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