December 26th, 2011|
The United States Department of Transportation released the Fatality Analysis Report System (FARS) data for 2010. FARS is the census data representing fatalities on our nation’s roadways. The largest categorical increase in roadway deaths was the 6 percent increase for fatalities caused by large trucks.
While large truck fatalities were up, the overall number of people who died in all motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States decreased from 33,833 in 2009 to 32,885 in 2010. This data helps to track both favorable and unfavorable trends. While, as a whole, America’s roadways have become historically safer, the trends show room for improvement, particularly in the areas of distracted driving, pedestrian deaths, and accidents caused by large trucks.
Accidents caused by large trucks that resulted in injuries, but not deaths, also increased by an alarming 12 percent. The trucking industry and regulators should be concerned by the upward trending numbers for both deaths and injuries. Presently under consideration by Congress is a rule to reduce the number of hours that a truck driver can drive in a day. The FARS data makes a compelling case for the proposed change in hours-of-service requirements designed to alleviate traffic accidents associated with fatigued driving.
Recently, lawmakers issued a new rule banning commercial drivers’ hand-held cell phone use to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by driver inattention. A cell phone ban has even been recommended for all motorists.
The FARS data is a useful tool to increase awareness about highway safety. This data definitely puts a spotlight on the trucking industry and helps frame the debate on future truck-related regulatory safety changes. Lawmakers and the truck industry should make a New Year’s Resolution to make 2012 the safest year on record. Let us use the FARS data to further bring awareness to problems plaguing our nation’s highway so that we can push through solutions focused on future roadway safety.