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
Cost Snapshot

  • Nonmembers $225
  • Members $75
Categories: ,


The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database contains data on automobile accidents on public U.S. roads that resulted in the death of one or more people within 30 days of the accident. Truck and trailer accidents are also included.The DOT releases the data for each year, making it difficult to analyze trends over time without appending several years together. To make this easier, NICAR merged the 1994 through 2009 data into one set of tables. SAS translates the official DOT codes to plain English in the data tables, relieving the tedious use of lookup tables. The data tables correspond to three “levels” of the accident: the crash level, the person level, and the vehicle level. The older data (prior to 2010) has one table for each level.

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

Related Tipsheets

  • 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.

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