Our industry has been so obsessed with improving air quality, via the 2007 engines and before that the 2002 engines, that it’s easy to overlook all that we do to improve safety.
A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report spells it out. Truck-related fatalities declined to 5,212 in 2005, compared to 5,235 in 2004. Truck-related injuries have declined even more, dropping from 122,000 in 2003 to 116,000 in 2004 and 114,000 in 2005.
Measured by injuries per 100 million truck vehicle miles traveled, arguably a more accurate gauge, those injuries decreased from 56 in 2003 to slightly more than 50 in 2005. An 11 percent decline in only two years? That’s huge.
I’m not surprised, because I see evidence every day of companies doing their part. The most stunning includes Swift Enterprises’ recent award of $1 million to Robert Goar of Fontana, Calif., for his safe driving, and $10,000 to each of nine runners-up. Countless other carriers have offered safety incentives to their drivers for years.
Go to any major truck show, and many of the equipment introductions you’ll see concern safety. These include side and rear cameras, and systems for lane tracking, collision warning and rollover prevention. Even advances in seats and automatic transmissions have safety value because they reduce fatigue.
Four-wheelers are responsible for the vast majority of highway carnage, including at least 70 percent of truck-related wrecks. But don’t hold your breath looking for someone outside trucking to offer $10,000, let alone $1 million, in four-wheeler safety awards. I’m proud to know that in the field of safety, our industry does more than its share.
–Brad Holthaus, Publisher