Increase in truck crash fatalities not indicative of safety trend: ATA

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The US Department of Transportation’s recently released overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2010 found an 8.7% increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks last year compared with 2009. However, American Trucking Associations president and CEO Bill Graves is cautioning policymakers to avoid jumping to conclusions based on the report.

“Every fatality on our highways is a tragedy, and the uptick in the 2010 preliminary report concerns us deeply. Without more information and analysis, though, it is difficult to draw conclusions about what this preliminary data means,” Graves said. “We would hope that policymakers will avoid the ‘error of recency,’ by overemphasizing the newest data at the expense of the overall, long-term trend, which has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to seeing further analysis from DOT on crash types as well as how many miles American motorists and truck drivers travelled last year.

“Even with this increase, 2010 was the among the safest years on record for the trucking industry thanks in large part to the good faith efforts of America’s truck drivers, vehicle manufacturers, truck fleet safety directors, law enforcement officers and true safety advocates, rather than due to economic hardship or other ancillary factors,” Graves said. “By remaining vigilant and focused on the true causes of crashes, I’m confident that we will be able to continue the marked declines in the number of truck-involved crashes and fatalities on our highways that we have seen in over the past decade.”

Graves noted that the full and complete data from DOT for the last decade shows improvement in overall highway safety, and “clearly shows trucking’s marked safety improvement.”

From 1999 to 2009, fatal crashes involving large trucks dropped by 35%, even as the number of registered large trucks grew by more than three million (41%), according to the ATA.

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