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Fatal crashes involving big trucks rose 13% in 2021, according to feds


On Tuesday, the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released alarming traffic fatality data from 2021.

According to the preliminary report released by NHTSA on May 17, overall traffic fatalities reached a 16 year high in 2021, with 42,915 people killed in crashes. This marks a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 traffic fatalities in 2020.

“The projection is the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history. Behind each of these numbers is a life tragically lost, and a family left behind,” the NHTSA noted in a news release.

The NHTSA also reported that fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck increased 13% in 2021, as compared to 2020. The NHTSA data only noted that a large truck was involved in a fatal crash and did not assign fault to either the commercial vehicle driver or passenger vehicle driver in these crashes.

See other key takeaways from the NHTSA report comparing 2021 data to 2020 data below:

  • Fatalities in multi-vehicle crashes up 16% 
  • Fatalities on urban roads up 16% 
  • Fatalities among drivers 65 and older up 14% 
  • Pedestrian fatalities up 13%
  • Daytime fatalities up 11% 
  • Motorcyclist fatalities up 9% 
  • Bicyclist fatalities up 5% 
  • Fatalities in speeding-related crashes up 5% 
  • Fatalities in police-reported, alcohol-involvement crashes up 5% 

Overall miles travelled by Americans increased significantly from 2020 to 2021, with an increase of about 325 billion miles, or about 11.2%.

“Data estimates show the fatality rate for 2021 was 1.33 fatalities per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled, marginally down from 1.34 fatalities in 2020. While the fatality rate continued to rise in the first quarter, it declined in the other three quarters of 2021, compared to 2020,” authorities said.

“We face a crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With our National Roadway Safety Strategy and the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking critical steps to help reverse this devastating trend and save lives on our roadways.” 


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