REPORT: Trucker Crash Deaths Rise to Highest Level in 30 Years

Washington D.C. – More truckers died in accidents last year than at any time in the last 30 years, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

On Tuesday, the NHTSA released highway crash fatality data for 2018, and while overall fatalities declined by 2.4%, the news was not as positive for truck drivers and occupants of large trucks.

NHTSA reported a total of 885 large truck occupants perished in crashes last year.

That number marks the most since 1988 when 911 died.

Additionally, another 3,525 motorists and 541 pedestrians and pedalcyclists were killed in large truck-involved accidents.


Going deeper inside the numbers reveals that large truck occupant fatalities in single-vehicle crashes increased from 2017 by 10 in 2018 to 535.

Large truck occupant fatalities in multiple-vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 353 in 2017 to 350 in 2018.

Motorist deaths decreased from 3,534 in 2017 to 3,525 last year.

Pedestrian and pedalcyclists deaths saw the largest increase at 9.7%, from 493 in 2017 to 541 in 2018.

Overall Traffic Deaths

According to the NHTSA, there were 36,560 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on U.S. roadways during 2018, a 2.4% decrease from 37,473 in 2017.

Traffic fatalities saw a decrease of 0.9% from 2016 to 2017 which followed two back-to-back yearly increases of 8.4% and 6.5%.

Fatalities decreased from 2017 to 2018 in almost all segments of the population with the exception of fatalities in crashes involving large trucks, and pedestrians and pedalcyclists.


Also of note, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4% (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014.

“New vehicles are safer than older ones and when crashes occur, more new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies that prevent or reduce the severity of crashes,” NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said.

He added, “NHTSA has spent recent years partnering with state and local governments and safety advocates to urge the public to never drive impaired or distracted, to avoid excessive speed, and to always buckle up.”

Estimates for 2019

In addition to the 2018 numbers, the NHTSA also released initial estimates for the first half of 2019.

A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2019 shows that an estimated 16,890 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes.


This represents a decrease of about 3.4% as compared to 17,479 fatalities reported to have occurred in the first half of 2018.

Additionally, vehicle miles traveled in the first 6 months of 2019 increased by about 12.4 billion miles, or about an 0.8% increase.

The fatality rate for the first half of 2019 decreased to 1.06 fatalities per 100 million VMT, down from the 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT in the first half of 2018.



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