Trucker fatalities at highest rate since 1988, according to disturbing report

I-80 Pileup

A federal report compiling preliminary crash data for 2019 shows that fatalities for large truck occupants have reached their highest level in more than three decades.

On October 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary traffic death data for 2019.

While overall traffic fatalities fell for the third year in a row, the number of fatalities for occupants of large trucks actually increased to 892, an increase over the 890 reported in 2018.

The report indicates that fatalities for occupants of large trucks hit its highest rate since 1988, when 911 people died.

The NHTSA report also found that fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck showed almost no change, decreasing slightly from 5,006 in 2018 to 5,005 in 2019. 

Overall, there were 36,096 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019.  This represents a decrease of 739 (down 2%) from the reported 36,835 fatalities in 2018, even though vehicle miles traveled increased by nearly 1%.

“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.”