Projections from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that nearly 43,000 people died in US vehicular traffic collisions in 2021—a 10.5% increase from 2020. It’s the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest year-to-year increase since the inception of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Several fatality categories saw similar increases, including:
- A 16% increase in multi-vehicle crash fatalities
- A 16% increase in fatalities that occurred on urban streets
- A 14% increase in fatalities for drivers 65 and older
- A 13% increase in pedestrian fatalities
- A 13% increase in fatalities resulting from accidents involving a large truck
- An 11% increase in daytime fatalities
- A 9% increase in motorcyclist fatalities
- A 5% increase in cyclist fatalities
- A 5% increase in fatalities related to speeding
- A 5% increase in alcohol-related fatalities, as reported by the police
NHTSA launched its Click It or Ticket campaign in response to this urgent crisis. The campaign aims to draw awareness to the fact that wearing a seatbelt can save lives during a car crash. NHTSA reported that seatbelts saved 15,000 lives in 2017. More sobering statistics show that 10,893 unbuckled passengers died in 2020.
Of the young adults that died (ages 18 to 34), 60% were completely unrestrained, representing one of the largest percentages among all age groups. However, improperly wearing a seatbelt can also lead to preventable injuries and deaths. Buckling up the right way means placing the shoulder belt across the middle of the chest and the lap belt across the hips. If the belt is too close to the neck, over the stomach, under the arms, or behind the back, it doesn’t afford the same protection.
Numerous myths exist regarding seatbelt usage in commercial vehicles. One of the more prevalent and lethal assumptions is that a large truck protects the driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set out to debunk this myth. In 2006, FMCSA reported 805 fatalities among drivers and passengers in large trucks, 393 of which weren’t wearing seatbelts. Fatalities that ejected the driver from their vehicle accounted for 217 of those deaths, and roughly 81% of those individuals weren’t wearing seatbelts.
Statistics prove repeatedly that seatbelt usage is critical for keeping commercial drivers safe. However, it is only one aspect of many that reduce drivers’ risks while on the road. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about reducing your trucking company’s risks.