In Washington federal trucking regulators express concern over increasing number of large truck involved fatal crashes in work zones and the continued increase in fatalities of large truck occupants.

Speaking at a Jan. 15 session of the 2019 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Jack Van Steenburg, chief safety officer for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said

·       Large-truck-occupant fatalities increased to 841 in 2017 from 725 in 2016 and 665 in 2015

·       Roughly 38% of those victims in occupant fatalities were not wearing their seat belts

·       The percentage of fatal work zone crashes that involved at least one large truck increased to 30.4% in 2017, up from 27.2% the prior year and 26.8% in 2015

·       The percentage of all fatal crashes involving at least one large truck also rose to 12.4% in 2017 from 11.2% in 2016 and 11.1% in 2015

·       Overall, the number of fatalities in large truck and/or bus crashes increased to 5,005 in 2017 from 4,629 in 2016

·       The actual number of large truck and bus fatal crashes rose to 4,455 in 2017 from 4,116 the prior year

The top five driver-related factors for large trucks and buses in fatal crashes were speeding, distractions such as cell phones, failure to yield right of way, impairment (fatigue) and careless driving.

FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said that some of that work to be done is included in the agency’s safety priorities in 2019. They will include inputting more accurate and timely crash data, evaluating tools to help drivers know when they are fatigued, continuing research on the promise of platooning, and supporting research and adoption of technologies for automated driving systems.

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