The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the final statistics for 2019. Amid the numbers was the stubborn fact that there was no decline in truck-crash-related fatalities – the number went from 5,006 in 2018 to 5,005 in 2019. The trucks for this statistic were commercial and non-commercial trucks weighing at least 10,000 pounds.
Rates among all vehicles down
The overall rate of road fatalities among all vehicles went down 2%, going from 36,835 in 2018 to 36,096 in 2019. The rate of deaths went down from 1.14 per 100 million miles traveled by vehicles to 1.10, which is the lowest rate since 2014.
Ominous predictions for 2020
The NHTSA also crunched the preliminary numbers for 2020, using the first six months of the year and comparing it to the previous year. During that time, there were 16,650 vehicle-related deaths, which was another 2% decrease in the total fatalities in the first six months of 2019 (16,988 deaths). These numbers are based on 264.2 billion miles traveled over that six-month span, which is a 16.6% decrease in miles traveled. While the number of deaths and miles traveled were down, the fatality rate actually went up to 1.25 per 100 million miles traveled. This, of course, should be a reason for concern.
Driver regulations relaxed
Truck drivers are essential workers because they are a vital part of delivering goods to Americans around the country. Unless someone is buying products made on the business’s premises — chances are that the goods were transported by a truck weighing at least 10,000 pounds. More drivers spent more time on the road to perform this vital service during the pandemic, which likely means more mistakes and lapses in judgment. The NHTSA also cited such continued common violations as truck drivers speeding, driving while distracted, failing to use seatbelts, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Accountability could be necessary
These are challenging times for all of us. Nevertheless, truck drivers engaging in risky behavior or reckless driving need to be held accountable for their actions. Victims or their loved ones can file lawsuits against the trucking companies to get the compensation they deserve.