Truck Driver Fatalities are at Highest Rates Since ‘88!

A new federal report for 2019 crash data shows a defeating statistic. Namely, fatality rates for large truck occupants have reached heights that have not been reached for 32 years.

This preliminary report was released on October 1, 2020, by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)

The most notable fact was that even though overall traffic fatalities fell for the third year in a row, the number of fatalities for drivers and occupants of large trucks by two more fatalities, 892 in total. This is an increase over the 890 fatalities that were reported for 2018.

892 fatalities for 2019 means that the number of fatalities for truck occupants has hit the highest rate since 1988. In 1988, 911 occupants of large trucks died in accidents.

The overall number of fatalities for 2019 is 36,096. This is a two percent decrease from 2018 (or 739 fatalities.)

Fatalities in crashes that involved at least one large truck shows no significant changes. The number decreased from 5,006 in 2018 to 5,005 in 2019. 

Along with the 2019 report, NHTSA also released a preliminary fatalities estimates report for the first half of 2020. This preliminary report shows that Q2 of 2020 shows a decline in overall traffic fatalities. This is due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height during this period.

The estimation is that 8,870 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Q2 of 2020, which is a 3.3% decrease as compared to the same period in 2019. At the same time, the total volume of traffic has decreased by a substantial 16 percent for the first six months of 2020. 

However, this decrease did not coincide with the number of fatal crashes. The estimation shows that the traffic fatality rates per 100 million VMT will increase to 1.25 in the first half of 2020 from 1.06 from the same period in 2019.

Below is a table containing a comparison of traffic fatality data by person type between 2018 and 2019:

“Road safety is always our top priority, and while we are encouraged by today’s reports showing a continued decline in total fatalities in 2019 and into the first half of 2020, we are concerned by the trend since April showing an increased fatality rate,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. “Now, more than ever, we should be watching ourselves for safe driving practices and encouraging others to do the same. It’s irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, taking risks not only with one’s own life, but with the lives of others.”