ARLINGTON, Va. — The number of truck-involved traffic fatalities in the US declined 20% in 2009, dropping from 4,245 in 2008 to 3,380 in 2009, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The reduction is the lowest level in recorded Department of Transportation history and also shows a 33% decrease in fatalities since the new Hours-of-Service regulations first became effective in January 2004.
“Greater rest opportunities for drivers under the 2004 Hours-of-Service rules and a more circadian-friendly approach to a driver’s work-rest cycle have helped truck drivers achieve these exceptional results,” said American Trucking Associations (ATA) president and CEO Bill Graves.
In addition to the 20% reduction in crash fatalities involving large trucks, the number of truck occupant deaths decreased 26% in 2009, from 682 in 2008 to 503 in 2009. The number of truck occupants injured in truck-related crashes also declined 26%. Those are the largest declines among all vehicle categories, officials said.
The overall number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the US decreased 9.7% from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2009, the lowest level since 1950, despite the fact that preliminary estimates show vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2% from 2008.
The ATA says its 18-point safety agenda includes promoting greater safety belt use by commercial drivers, reinstituting a national maximum speed limit, improved truck crashworthiness standards, speed governing of all trucks, tax incentives for safety technologies, and a decade-long initiative to create a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol test results.