The fatal crash rate per 100 million miles traveled by trucks dropped 2.7 percent to 1.34 during that period.
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Fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles have declined as well — 9 percent for total fatal crashes and 14 percent in the rate per 100 million miles traveled — between 2007 and 2016.
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Industry officials are quick to point to the safety record of the trucking industry, and note that when there is a fatal accident, it’s typically not the truck’s fault.
In 2016, 73 percent of fatal crashes involving a large truck were caused by another vehicle, person, animal or object in the truck’s lane or encroaching into it, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a U.S. Department of Transportation division that regulates the industry. Eighty-three percent of fatalities were not occupants of the large truck.
Fatal crashes involving large trucks, 2007-2016
The modern tractor-trailer truck increasingly comes equipped with technology that helps drivers avoid accidents, said Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Trucking in Dayton and the former chairman of the American Trucking Associations.
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Much of that technology has been developed as part of research into autonomous vehicles. Burch and others said they believe self-driving trucks are a decade or more down the road. But the immediate benefit of that research is that new trucks now have anti-rollover systems, lane departure technology, stability control, equipment on the front end to detect other cars and automatically slow the truck, and cameras to track what is happening in and around the truck.
“Trucks are safer than they were 20 years ago,” Burch said.
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