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November 15, 2013 10:00 AM, EST

2012 U.S. Truck-Involved Fatalities Rose 3.7%, NHTSA Says

Tom Biery/Trans Pixs

U.S. fatalities from accidents involving large trucks increased by 3.7% in 2012, rising to 3,921 from 3,781 people the year before, according to a Nov. 14 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2012 marks a third straight increase for annual truck-involved fatalities since they hit a low point in 2009 with the NHTSA data.

The largest percentage increase within the truck-involved section was 18% for occupants of multivehicle accidents, which rose to 273 people from 232 in 2011.

The largest truck-involved fatality category by number was occupants of other vehicles, which rose by 4.8% to 2,843 from 2,713 in 2011.

American Trucking Associations said the data from NHTSA “paints an incomplete and misleading picture of the nation’s trucking industry.”

“Every fatality on our nation’s highways is a tragedy, and we all have an obligation to improve highway safety.  Unfortunately, the data released today is a misrepresentation of our industry’s improving safety record,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement.

“When the public hears the term ‘large truck,’ they naturally think of the millions of large tractor-trailers that deliver their most essential goods. However, data released today lumps those tractor-trailers in with millions of smaller, non-freight-hauling vehicles whose crash rates are higher than in the trucking industry. The federal government should not be so casual with its terminology and should provide further information and clarity to the public,” Graves said.

For additional coverage see the Nov. 18 print edition of Transport Topics.