13% Increase in Truck Crash Fatalities Raises New Safety Urgency

forward collision warning

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released sobering data indicating that truck crash fatalities hit a record high last year. The agency reported that the total deaths in crashes involving at least one large truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds climbed 13%, with 5,601 lives lost in 2021 compared to 4,965 in the previous 12 months.

That’s a painful human toll. It’s also potentially bad news for fleet budgets at a time when nuclear verdicts for fatal truck crashes are averaging more than $22 million and legislation to raise minimum truck liability insurance requirements from $750,000 to $5 million has been revived in Congress.

All of these factors make it more critical than ever for fleets to implement technologies designed to reduce risk.

New trucks incorporating features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping systems help address that need, yielding benefits such as a 41 to 44% reduction in rear-end crashes involving large trucks and the potential to prevent up to 63,000 truck-related collisions annually.

Aftermarket video telematics solutions – usable with both new and older vehicles – can also play a pivotal role. Many of these dashcam-based systems are now equipped with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) and driver state monitoring (DSM) features that alert drivers to imminent risks such as forward collisions, solid lane line crossings and distracted driving in real time. That’s in addition to the ability to provide visual documentation of driving behavior for coaching and accident analysis purposes.

With the inherent size and weight risks of trucking, and with nuclear verdicts always just one accident away, every fleet manager today recognizes the need to put safety on the agenda. The latest truck crash fatality statistics are a reminder of the urgency of that mission. Delays in adopting safety technology may literally mean the difference between life and death.