New Report Confirms Trucker Crash Deaths Now at Alarming 31-Year High
Washington D.C. – Trucker crash deaths rose to a 31-year high in 2019, according to a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
On Thursday, the NHTSA released a preview of 2019 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and preliminary estimates for the first half of 2020.
While some news was encouraging as overall traffic deaths decreased 2 percent in 2019 (36,096) from 2018 (36,835), the data also reveals a continued and troubling reality for truck drivers.
A total of 892 large truck occupants perished in traffic accidents in 2019 which is two more than in 2018.
That number now marks the most since 1988 when 911 died.
The overall number of large truck-involved crashes only fell by one from 5,006 in 2018 to 5,005 in 2019.
The NHTSA’s latest heavy truck crash data comes as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and industry stakeholders continue to grapple with how to reduce both the frequency and severity of accidents.
Earlier this year, the FMCSA announced its intent to launch a study of what is causing the rise in large truck-involved accidents and fatalities.
The Agency even recently hosted its first ever virtual safety summit where this was the focus of the day-long discussion.
The invited panelists, most of whom were mega carrier and trucking association executives, largely championed the implementation of more technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) as the best way to curb crashes.
The then-acting administrator of the FMCSA, Jim Mullen, flatly dismissed assertions that the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate is at least partly to blame for the recent alarming increase in commercial motor vehicle accidents.
Critics of the ELD mandate continue to point to it as a primary culprit arguing drivers are being forced to operate while fatigued or earn less income.
The FMCSA has sought to provide more flexibility to truckers and just this week implemented new hours of service (HOS) changes in hopes of addressing stakeholders’ concerns.
However, it will take some time to determine if the new HOS changes will ultimately result in a decrease in trucker crash deaths.
Overall Traffic Deaths
Passenger vehicle fatalities fell from 22,845 in 2018 to 22,215 in 2019 representing an almost 3 percent drop.
The drop is notable since vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by nearly 1 percent.
As a result, the fatality rate for 2019 was 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT – the lowest rate since 2014, down from 1.14 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2018.
Transportation Nation Network will have more on NHTSA’s latest data in the days ahead.