DOT Reports Truck-Related Fatals up 8.7% in 2010

The DOT Reports Dec. 8 that the number of persons killed in crashes involving large trucks jumped 8.7 percent in 2010 to 3,675, compared with 3,380 large truck-related fatalities in 2009. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro referred to an increase to 4,000 at a recent Congressional hearing, citing it as one of the reasons the Hours of Service rule needed to be rewritten as one means of curbing fatigue-related crashes. [/box]

[box type=”shadow”] She said 500 of the 2010 deaths involved an “overly tired” driver. As of press time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had not responded to a request to reconcile the 3,675 and 4,000 figures. Within minutes after the 2010 data was released, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves urged policymakers to avoid jumping to conclusions based on highway fatality figures released today by the DOT. [/box]

[box type=”shadow”]A key piece of the 2010 equation — vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by large trucks — won’t be released until early 2012. Opponents of the current HOS rule cite fewer VMT during a down economy as the reason for a previous decline in truck-related fatalities. Trucking industry stakeholders have repeatedly noted that truck traffic increased in 2010 as the economy began to rebound somewhat. “Every fatality on our highways is a tragedy, and the uptick in the 2010 preliminary report concerns us deeply.[/box]

[box type=”shadow”]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.[/box]

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“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,” Graves said. “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.”[/box]