WASHINGTON — Highway fatalities have crept up sharply over the past two years, numbers released Friday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show.
Last year’s 4,317 large truck fatalities were 5.2 percent higher than the 4,094 in 2015, while 2015 had 4.5 percent more truck-involved fatalities than the 3,908 recorded for 2014.
In contrast, large truck fatalities in 2014 had gone down from 3,981 in 2013.
According to NHTSA data, which was collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in all types of crashes in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015.
The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million VMT — a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman Duane DeBruyne said the agency’s research division is thoroughly analyzing the data at present.
NHTSA found that distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors — including speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seat belts — continued to increase.
The Truck Safety Coalition sent a statement saying it “is saddened by yet another increase in the number of people killed in large truck crashes, but we are not surprised.
“Since 2009, we have been telling Congress two things: truck safety is on the decline and that they have the ability to change that trend by mandating commonsense solutions. Unfortunately, legislators lack a sense of urgency and regulators continue to delay data-driven technologies, like automatic emergency braking and heavy vehicle speed limiters. Those technologies have been implemented, with great results, throughout the world.
“Instead of passing bills stuffed with exemptions, delays, and regulatory rollbacks to appease special interests, Congress should act now to stop preventable truck crash deaths and injuries.”
Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.
The 2016 national data shows that:
A NHTSA news release stated that the agency “continues to work closely with its state and local partners, law enforcement agencies, and the more than 350 members of the Road to Zero Coalition to help address the human choices that are linked to 94 percent of serious crashes” and that “NHTSA also continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year, and may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers make behind the wheel.”
Click here to view 2016 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview.
Click here to view 2016 Quick Facts.