The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) preliminary report on traffic fatalities from 2021 was released on May 17 and it was not good news for truckers. A record percentage increase of reports in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the highest number of fatalities since 2005 is a sign that a big safety campaign from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration might be incoming.
The National Roadway Safety Strategy has a goal of zero fatalities, which is being leveraged by autonomous trucking projects to push their products. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence driving, satellite traffic monitoring (currently deployed in Texas), and others will use this report to lobby Congress for more tax dollars to subsidize their research and development.
And the target of blame, as usual, is the truck driver. However, note that FARS’ definition of a “large truck” is 10,000 pounds and over. That’s Class 3, your local delivery van, and everything heavier.
Data shows an increase across multiple categories
Some other interesting data points in the 2021 report were:
- Multi-vehicle crash fatalities increased 16%.
- Urban street and road fatalities were up 16%.
- Seniors 65 years and older fatalities increased 14%.
- Pedestrian fatalities were up 13%.
- Daytime fatalities increased 11%.
- Motorcycle fatalities were up 9%.
- Bicycle fatalities were 5% higher.
- Speeding crashes were up 5%.
- Alcohol-related, police-reported crashes were up 5%.
Americans traveled significantly more miles in 2021 as COVID worries lessened. An increase of 325 billion miles, or 11.2%, proved Americans were ready to get out of the house. An average of 1.33 accidents per 100 million miles, down barely from the 1.34 in 2020, was reported. The Spring quarterly accident rate also rose, while the other three quarters showed the accident rate dropping.
With International Roadcheck happening May 17 through 19, we need to work not only on the focus target of wheel ends, but also road driving habits. Make sure your 360-degree awareness is spot-on, your equipment is in working order, and stay safe in everything you do.