The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that based on preliminary figures, 1.96 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2004 per 100 million truck miles traveled. This rate marks the safest year in trucking since NHTSA began calculating the rates in 1975, and is a year-over-year safety improvement over the 2003 rate of 2.19.
NHTSA previously announced that the absolute number of large trucks involved in fatalities had increased 3% year-over-year to 4,862 in 2004 versus 4,721 in 2003. This had raised some concerns with safety advocates, but recently the agency found that total large-truck miles traveled jumped almost 15% to 248 billion, compared with 216 billion in 2003.
The rate is significant because 2004 marked an economic resurgence — hence the 15% boost in miles traveled — for the trucking industry, while the controversial new drivers' hours-of-service rules were implemented that January.