While overall highway deaths in 2010 were at the lowest level since 1949, truck-related fatalities increased for the first time in three years, the U.S. Transportation Department announced Dec. 8.
Truck-involved deaths rose 8.7 percent last year from 2009 to 3,675, including drivers and passengers. Truck driver fatalities increased 6 percent to 529, with 64 percent of those deaths involving single-vehicle crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. The number of truck drivers killed in multi-vehicle crashes also increased 16 percent.
“Without more information and analysis, though, it is difficult to draw conclusions about what this preliminary data means,” said ATA President William Graves in a statement.
Injuries from truck-related crashes rose 12 percent last year from the previous year.
The American Trucking Associations pointed out that from 1999 through 2009, truck-related fatalities declined 35 percent while injuries dropped 48 percent.
The highway death count of 32,885 occurred even as American drivers traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2009. The fatality rate of 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010 was the lowest on record.
Fatalities declined in most categories in 2010, although deaths among large truck occupants increased. New data also show an estimated 3,092 fatalities in distraction-affected crashes in 2010.
Affected trucks include model year 2008-2018 Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star 4700, 4900, 5700 and 6900 trucks. DTNA says after hard brake applications, the brake light pressure switch may not activate the brake lights with the light application of the brake pedal.