ATA Urges Caution in Analyzing Increase in Truck-Related Fatalities

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves has urged policymakers to avoid jumping to conclusions based on highway fatality figures released by the Department of Transportation.

U.S. highway deaths fell to the lowest level in 2010 since 1949, but truck-related fatalities rose for the first time since 2005. Fatalities involving large trucks increased 8.7%. NHTSA said that 3,675 people died in truck-related accidents in 2010, an increase of 295 over the 2009 figure of 3,380, ending a three-year decline in fatalities in truck-involved accidents.

“Every fatality on our highways is a tragedy, and the uptick in the 2010 preliminary report concerns us deeply. Without more information and analysis, though, it is difficult to draw conclusions about what this preliminary data means,” Graves said. “We would hope that policymakers will avoid the ‘error of recency,’ by overemphasizing the newest data at the expense of the overall, long-term trend, which has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to seeing further analysis from DOT on crash types as well as how many miles American motorists and truck drivers traveled last year.

“Even with this increase, 2010 was the among the safest years on record for the trucking industry thanks in large part to the good faith efforts of America’s truck drivers, vehicle manufacturers, truck fleet safety directors, law enforcement officers and true safety advocates, rather than due to economic hardship or other ancillary factors. By remaining vigilant and focused on the true causes of crashes, I’m confident that we will be able to continue the marked declines in the number of truck-involved crashes and fatalities on our highways that we have seen in over the past decade.”

Graves said the full and complete data from DOT for the last decade shows improvement in overall highway safety, and shows trucking’s marked safety improvement.

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009) the number of large trucks involved in:

  • Fatal crashes dropped by 35%;
  • Injury crashes dropped by 48%.

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009), the number of registered large trucks grew by more than 3 million, or 41%.

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009), the number of passenger vehicles involved in:

  • Fatal crashes dropped by 24%, 11 percentage points lower than the change in the truck numbers;
  • Injury crashes dropped by 29%, 19 percentage points lower than the change in the truck numbers.

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009), the number of registered passenger vehicles grew by more than 17%, 24 percentage points lower than the truck growth.

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