The traffic fatality data from 2013 has been released. The U.S. Transportation Department announced the results of the report and the news is largely positive. In 2013, traffic fatalities dropped 3.1 percent to a total of 32,719. The news was not all positive, however. Large-truck accident deaths rose for the fourth consecutive year. In addition, the total number of crashes rose. Those crashes were obviously survived at a greater rate, but the collisions themselves are still up. With fatalities down overall, more attention will likely be paid to the areas where safety has not improved.
Semi truck accidents caused 3,964 deaths in 2013. Those deaths include truck drivers, occupants of vehicles involved in accidents with big rigs and pedestrians killed by large trucks. The number of deaths represents a 0.5 percent increase from 2012. The reasons for that increase are difficult to pin down.
As the economy improved in 2013, interstate trucking likely increased. More miles driven often means a greater total number of fatalities. It may also put pressure on an industry that has struggled to fill open truck driver positions in recent years. Overworked and fatigued truck drivers are more likely to cause deadly accidents than well-rested drivers.
Legislative attempts to reduce truck driver fatigue met with resistance in 2014. A measure intended to reduce working hours from the old level of 82 hours over an eight day period was attacked by lobbyists and trucking companies. The measure will not be enforced pending further research.
Source: Carrier Management, “Large-Truck Crash Deaths Increase for Fourth Year,” 24 December 2014