WASHINGTON — The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) is calling for immediate action to advance critical truck safety reforms following the recent release of the “Deadliest Truck Crash States” report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The report ranks states on truck crash fatalities per 100,000 population for 2021, the most recent year for which data is available.
The “deadliest dozen” states, in order, are: New Mexico; Arkansas; Mississippi; Montana; Oklahoma; Wyoming; Alabama; Louisiana; Nebraska; Kentucky; South Carolina; and Texas.
The report data was generated by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis at NHTSA.
“The findings in this report are deeply concerning. New Mexico truckers and drivers should be able to travel our state without worry or fear,” said Senator Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico. “That is why I remain committed to pushing the Department of Transportation to take action to prevent needless deaths and keep our roadways safe. This is a moment of national crisis as we continue to lose tens and thousands of lives to traffic fatalities each year, and it is time for our leaders to step up and commit to putting an end to these preventable tragedies.”
The report provides insights into one of the worst years for truck crash deaths in modern history. NHTSA reports that large truck fatalities surged in 2021, passing 5,700 deaths.
In addition, there were more than 155,000 injuries. Since 2009, truck crash deaths have increased by 71%.
“Truck crash deaths have continued to rise over the last 10 years, demonstrating the need for safety reforms,” said Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C., who sits on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and is its ranking member. “Safety was my first priority when working on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, including mandating automatic emergency braking, stronger standards for rear underride guards, and increased funding for safety programs, among other provisions. We can and must do more to reverse the rise in truck-related injuries and fatalities.”
TSC officials contend that more action is needed to combat this deadly rise in crashes.
“Unfortunately, some lawmakers representing constituents in the deadliest states are endorsing unsafe policies that will lead to even more deadly crashes,” a TSC news release stated. “One such example is banning the use of speed limiters in Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), a measure that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCSA) estimates can help prevent or reduce the severity of 20% of all fatal crashes.”
Linda Wilburn, Oklahoma resident and TSC Board member, laments the current situation, saying, “My son was incinerated when he was struck by a speeding semi that failed to stop traveling 75 miles an hour. My husband, Gary was a firefighter and did not even recognize his own son’s vehicle as he put out the blaze. It is a slap in the face to see Okies in Congress support speeding semis over human life.”
The TSC is calling on Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) “to aggressively pursue commonsense solutions” to reduce truck crash violence on the nation’s roads by:
Expeditiously finalizing Automatic Emergency Braking rule for all classes of CMVs.
Expeditiously completing the speed limiter rule for CMVs.
Requiring DOT/NHTSA to conduct side underride guard impact testing.
Funding DOT to conduct its work without unsafe riders that prohibit FMCSA from implementing specific safety provisions for teen truckers in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program.
Expeditiously requiring new motor carriers to pass a knowledge exam proving that they know and can implement Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations required to safely operate a motor carrier business, including those hauling hazardous materials. Currently, DOT allows anyone to operate in interstate commerce who files appropriate paperwork without requiring any evidence they know the rules to keep truck drivers and all roadway users safe.
Zach Cahalan, TSC executive director, said decision-makers must act now.
“People can and should expect their government to keep them safe from the carnage large trucks cause on our roads and highways,” he said. “It is time for Congress and DOT to fulfill this expectation without reservation.”
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.