Total fatalities in large truck crashes (>10,000 pounds GVW) increased from an all-time low of 3,380 in 2009 to 3,675 in 2010, an increase of 8.7%. Vehicle miles travelled in 2010 will not be released until later in the year so it is too soon to say the exact change in fatalities per million miles, but that measure is also likely to have increased because while it is likely miles travelled increased over 2009 it is not likely that they increased by 8.7%. The 2010 number does not diminish in any way the tremendous improvements in safety made by the trucking industry over the last 35 years. The absolute number of fatalities have declined as the number of miles driven have increased. Fatalities per 100 million miles driven have fallen from 6 to 1. Congratulations and thank you to the trucking industry.
In comparison to passenger vehicles, the fatal accident frequency rate for large trucks and passenger vehicles are now identical at just over 1. This also represents a dramatic improvement in safety in the trucking industry. In 1979, the last year before trucking deregulation, the gap was 2.4 fatal crashes per 100 million miles.
Every highway fatality is a tragedy and we should all strive to reduce accident frequency. The data shows that the trucking industry has a fantastic track record in improving safety. The lack of science behind changing the hours-of-service restart rules and the clear lack of any correlation between CSA/SMS scores and accident frequency suggest that the current regulatory environment is focused more on the appearance of doing something to improve safety while ignoring the government’s own data which shows the progress the industry is making on its own.