Overall traffic fatalities decline, but truck-involved fatalities increase — again

New data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that while overall traffic fatalities were down in 2019, fatal crashes involving large trucks increased.

According to a May 2020 preliminary report from the NHTSA on U.S. crash fatalities, 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019 — a decrease of 1.2% as compared to the 36,560 fatalities that were reported in 2018.

While overall traffic fatalities dropped in 2019, fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck are projected to increase by about 1%, the NHTSA says. The NHTSA data does not distinguish between commercial and privately-owned trucks, it is important to note.

In 2018, there was a 2.4% decrease in all motor vehicle crash fatalities from the year before, but fatal crashes involving large trucks actually increased by 0.9%. 2018 marked the first full year that the ELD Mandate was in effect.

In January 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a new study called the Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study (LTCCFS) that is intended to address the uptick in fatal crashes involving trucks in recent years. “Over the last three years (2016- 2018), fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 5.7 percent. This study will help FMCSA identify factors that are contributing to the growth in fatal large truck crashes, and in both injury and property damage only (PDO) crashes. These factors will drive new initiatives to reduce crashes on our nations roadways,” FMCSA said.

The NHTSA says that the May 2020 report contains early estimates on traffic fatalities and that a complete report will be released later this year.