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Large truck deaths increased 1.9% in 2011 over 2010, says NHTSA

The agency said 635 large truck occupants died in crashes in 2011 compared with 530 in 2010. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker Staff


WASHINGTON — The total number of people who died in large truck crashes increased 1.9 percent in 2011 over 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Monday.

However, the number of occupants of large trucks who died in an accident increased 20 percent, the NHTSA said.

NHTSA said 3,757 people died in large truck crashes in 2011 compared with 3,686 in 2010.

The agency said 635 large truck occupants died in crashes in 2011 compared with 530 in 2010.

NHTSA said 2010 data is from the Fatality Analysis Report System (FARS) while the 2011 data is from the Annual Report File (ARF).

The agency said 403 truckers died in single-vehicle accidents in 2011 and 232 died in multi-vehicle accidents. That compared with 339 and 191, respectively, in 2010.

The only large truck category to decline in 2011 was the number of other vehicle occupants killed — 2,695 in 2011 compared with 2,7979 in 2010.

Four hundred twenty-seven non occupants died in large truck crashes in 2011 compared with 359 in 2010.

The 2011 increase in total deaths from large truck accidents marks the second consecutive increase (3,380 died in large truck crashes in 2009), but remains a marked decreased from the 4,245 who died in large truck crashes in 2008.

All told, 32,367 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2011, a 1.9 percent decline from the 32,999 who died in 2010, and the lowest total in the U.S. since 1949, when 30,246 died.

Bicyclist deaths jumped 8.7 percent in 2011, NHTSA said.

The increase in bicycle deaths probably reflects more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure, said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which represents state highway safety agencies.

Washington, D.C., for example, reports a 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004. The city also tripled its bike lane network during the same period.

"Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportations," Adkins said. "We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely."

The increase in deaths of large-truck occupants is more puzzling, but may be due to more trucks returning to the road as the economy improves, he said.

"There are more questions than answers about what is occurring here," Adkins said. NHTSA said the agency is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase.

Motorcycle deaths also rose 2.1 percent, marking the 13th time in the last 14 years that motorcycle rider deaths have risen.

Associated Press sources contributed to this report.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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