While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported an overall decline in traffic deaths over the last few years, the trend for semi-truck related incidents is not so encouraging.

Via Bloomberg:

The number of people killed in large-truck crashes increased for the fourth straight year, bucking a trend of overall improvement in U.S. highway safety.

Fatalities rose to 3,964 people last year, which includes truckers, pedestrians and the occupants of vehicles that collided with the big rigs, the U.S. Transportation Department said today in its annual traffic-injury report. That's up 0.5 percent from 2012, even though highway deaths involving all types of vehicles fell 3.1 percent to 32,719.

Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration David Friedman seems to think driver fatigue is a big part of the problem. "We do know tired truckers are a risk on our roads," he said in a briefing. "Any effort to reduce the number of people who are tired or drowsy on the road can have an impact."

I wonder if distracted drivers of smaller vehicles contribute to big-truck crashes, in chain-reaction type situations. And of course, the "total miles driven" seems to have increase for large trucks over the years... which would inevitably lead to more accidents as well.

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What else could be causing or contributing to these apparently rising safety issues surrounding semi-trucks?

Image via Flickinphotos/Flickr