Truck occupant fatalities up 20 percent

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 12/12/2012

Deaths of truck occupants increased in 2011 by 20 percent, underscoring what OOIDA says is a need for cab crashworthiness standards.

In 2011, 635 truck occupants died in large-truck crashes, according to a report released this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is 105 more people than in 2010.

That trend runs counter to the decline in occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles and light trucks. The report shows declines in the number of fatalities of the occupants of passenger cars and light trucks, dropping 4.6 and 4.1 percent respectively in 2011.

“Last year, passenger car and truck occupant deaths dropped by nearly 5 percent. But deaths by large-truck occupants were up 20 percent. What is wrong with this picture? NASCAR drivers walk away from collisions at 200 miles per hour but truck drivers are losing their lives at 30 miles per hour,” said OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill.

“Families are being destroyed because we are making cabs lighter and lighter while efforts persist to make the loads heavier. Accidents will happen – period. We won’t be able to outsmart that,” she said.

“We spend so much energy talking about preventing accidents, which is a worthwhile discussion, but sadly we ignore asking the questions about what safety measures need to be put in place to protect the life of the truck driver. That has to change. Drivers lives matter too.”

Overall fatalities as a result of large-truck crashes ticket up 1.9 percent overall with fatalities of the occupants of other vehicles involved in those crashes dropping 3.6 percent.

The statistics released by NHTSA do not account for the vehicle miles traveled by large trucks. Any uptick in the number of miles traveled by the trucking industry will result in a decline in the overall fatality rates of large-truck crashes.

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