Report: Fatalities, injuries from large truck crashes declined in ’05

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A new report on 2005 highway crashes issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a small decline in the number of fatalities from large truck crashes and a significant reduction in the number of people injured in large truck crashes, particularly among nonoccupants.

Newly released NHTSA figures show the number of fatalities from truck-involved crashes declined to 5,212 from 5,235 in 2005. The number of people injured in large truck crashes decreased 1.7 percent to 114,000 – a reduction of 2,000 injuries from 2004. According to NHTSA, the total number of highway fatalities involving all types of vehicles increased 1.4 percent to 43,443 in 2005 from 42,836 a year earlier.

“We are pleased to see that both fatality and injury figures in truck-involved crashes are trending downward,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “These numbers highlight the successful efforts of the trucking industry to increase safety on the nation’s highways and illustrate the continuing improvement in highway safety among our professional drivers.”

The small decline in truck-involved fatalities comes on the heels of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s announcement last fall that the fatal crash rate for large trucks fell to its lowest point since the Department of Transportation began keeping records in 1975. The 2004 rate for large trucks stood at 1.96 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle-miles-traveled. Similarly, the truck-involved injury crash rate for 2004 also hit a record low at 36.6 injury crashes per 100 million vehicle-miles-traveled.

ATA data indicates that truck vehicle-miles-traveled figures were relatively flat in 2005, mirroring the overall trend for miles traveled by all vehicles, as reported by NHTSA. Vehicle-miles-traveled are used to determine crash rates for all vehicles.

According to ATA, trucking industry programs and outreach efforts are playing a major role in improving highway safety; these efforts include greater education on sharing the road with large trucks and increased traffic enforcement for cars that operate unsafely around large trucks. ATA also has pushed for the adoption of primary safety belt laws in all 50 states; such regulations allow police officers to stop and issue traffic citations to motorists failing to wear their safety belts.