The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that there were 673 less highway fatalities in 2017 in comparison to 2016. In fact, the number of deaths resulting from an accident on the highway has dropped in most categories except those involving large trucks; according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Their statistics show that fatalities from trucking accidents raised 9% from 2016 to 2017. The NHTSA recognizes these vehicles as a truck with a GVWR higher than 10,000 pounds. This includes both commercial, and non-commercial vehicles. Anything greater than 10,000 pounds enters the tractor-trailer and straight trucks category.
NHTSA reports say that there was a 5.8% increase of fatalities involving tractor-trailers, and an 18.7% raise in single-unit straight truck fatalities. There were, in total, 4,761 large truck deaths in 2017. That is an increase of 392 deaths compared to the 2016 total number. There was also an increase of SUV crash fatalities, going up 3% between 2016 and 2017. Ray Martinez, with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), stated that failure to wear a seatbelt resulted in a quarter of occupant deaths in accidents involving large trucks.
Although numbers are dropping in several categories, there is still a large number of on-the-road fatalities overall. “The good news is that fatalities are trending downward after increasing for the two previous years. But the tragic news is that 37,133 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. All of us need to work together to reduce fatalities on the roads,” Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation says. “Safety is the Departments number-one priority”.
The NHTSA report is categorized based on vehicle type, location, age, and many other factors. The full report will be available in the fall of 2019. Until then, the NHTSA says it is too soon to form a theory on possible future changes in deaths on our highways.
They have also released an early estimate of reported vehicle deaths for the first six months of 2018. So far, it predicts a 3.1% decrease in traffic deaths. Their rough estimate states that there have been 17,120 highway fatalities in 2018 versus the 17,644 deaths over the same period in 2017.