Truck-involved fatal crash rate falls to all-time low

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The fatal crash rate for large trucks in 2004 fell to its lowest point in 30 years, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Newly released Federal Highway Administration vehicle mileage figures, used to help determine crash rates for all vehicles, show the 2004 rate for large trucks stood at 1.96 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle-miles-traveled. This marks the lowest rate since the U.S. Department of Transportation began tracking large truck safety records in 1975 and breaks the previous low of 1.97 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle-miles-traveled in 2002.

The record-low improvement in the fatal crash rate comes despite an increase in the number of vehicles on the road. According to FHWA, there were nearly 6.3 million more registered cars and trucks in 2004 than in 2003. “The numbers show a continuing improvement in U.S. highway safety within the trucking industry and among our professional drivers,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said Thursday, Dec. 15. “Motor carrier commitment to safety is making a difference for everyone.”

The lower fatal crash rate underscores the trucking industry’s continual efforts to increase safety on the nation’s highways, said Graves, who credited the industry’s outreach efforts as playing a major role. This includes greater education on sharing the road with large trucks and increased traffic enforcement for cars that operate unsafely around large trucks.

Most recently, ATA called upon the governors of 25 states to push for the adoption of primary safety belt laws in their respective states; such regulations would allow police officers to stop and issue traffic citations to motorists failing to wear their safety belts. ATA also expressed its support for a federal regulation requiring the use of electronic onboard recorders to document driver compliance with work and rest rules, provided EOBR use demonstrably improves safety performance and compliance, along with other conditions.