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Trucking related fatalities drop 12%, overall fatalities lowest
Thursday, 02 July 2009 00:00

WASHINGTON—The number of overall traffic fatalities reported in 2008 hit the lowest level since 1961.Additionally the fatality rate, which factors in things such as fewer miles traveled, also reached the lowest level ever recorded, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2008 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) which released the information July 2.

Those killed in large trucks numbered 677 in 2008, which was down 16 percent from 2007 when 805 were killed.

People killed in crashes involving large trucks totaled 4,229, a reduction of 12 percent from 2007 when 4,822 died. This decrease of 593 fatalities is due primarily to the 469 fewer fatalities of occupants of other vehicles in these crashes, NHTSA stated.

The fatality data for 2008 placed the highway death count at 37,261, a drop of 9.7 percent from 2007 when 41,259 died.

The fatality rate for 2008 was 1.27 persons per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), about 7 percent below the rate of 1.35 recorded for 2007.

“While the number of highway deaths in America has decreased, we still have a long way to go,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, adding that the country has made major strides in increasing seat belt use, curtailing impaired driving, making roads and highways safer, and maximizing vehicle safety, all of which play important roles in the declining death rate.

Unfortunately motorcycle deaths increased for the 11th straight year and now account for 14 percent of all highway fatalities.

Passenger car occupant fatalities declined for the sixth consecutive year, and are at their lowest level since NHTSA began collecting fatality crash data in 1975.

The 2008 rates are based on the latest (April 2009) Traffic Volume Trend estimates from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Overall 2008 VMT decreased by 3.4 percent from 2007 VMT—from 3,029,822 to 2,925,503 million. VMT data will be updated when FHWA officially releases the 2008 Annual Highway statistics later this fall.

“It is important to note that while there has been a consistent decrease in VMT since December 2007, there has been an even steeper decline in the number of fatalities, as evidenced by the continued drop in the fatality rate,” NHTSA stated. “While the reduction in total fatalities may be due in part to a decrease in miles traveled, there are many other additional factors that affect the outcome from motor vehicle crashes.”

TheTrucker.com, 7/2/2009