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Highway Fatalities Fall to Record Low; Truck-Related Deaths Rise

12/8/2011 12:30:00 PM
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U.S. highway deaths fell to the lowest level in 2010 since 1949, but truck-related fatalities rose for the first time since 2005, the Department of Transportation said Thursday.

Fatalities involving large trucks increased rose 8.7%, DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in its annual report.

NHTSA said that 3,675 people died in truck-related accidents in 2010, an increase of 295 over the 2009 figure of 3,380, ending a three-year decline in fatalities in truck-involved accidents.

American Trucking Associations said that in the 10-year period from 1999 to 2009, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes dropped by 35%, while injury crashes dropped by 48%.

At the same time, the number of registered big rigs rose by more than 3 million, or 41%, ATA said in a statement, and ATA President Bill Graves cautioned that policymakers should not jump to conclusions about the fatality figures.

“Every fatality on our highways is a tragedy, and the uptick in the 2010 preliminary report concerns up deeply,� Graves said in a statement. “Without more information and analysis, though, it is difficult to draw conclusions about what this preliminary data means.�

Overall, fatalities in both trucks and automobiles declined to their lowest number — 32,885 — since 1949, when 30,246 people died, DOT said.

That led to the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 1.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009.

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