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Report shows improved truck driver safety despite increasingly hazardous roadways

May 23, 2023
Lytx has collated data from both federal safety agencies and its own video telematics to paint a portrait of the industry that, despite worsening national safety trends overall, sees truck drivers as operating more and more safely.

Fleet tech provider Lytx has released a report pointing out that despite an increase in U.S. traffic fatalities in recent years, its video telematics platform users have experienced increased safety benefits, with fewer drivers engaging in high-risk behaviors.

More than 36 billion miles of driving data were analyzed by the company through 2022 and compared primarily to 2019, which Lytx stated in an email was the last “normal” year before coronavirus supply chain disruptions shifted freight trends and reduced the number of passenger vehicles on the road.

“Over the last four years, due in large part to COVID-19 and global supply chain disruptions, we have experienced unprecedented changes in driving behaviors,” said David Riordan, Lytx's enterprise EVP and GM. “Only through data is there objective and actionable understanding. We hope that by sharing the findings in this report, derived from extensive data from the Lytx Vision Platform, we can help fleets celebrate their wins in 2022, as well as provide insights to help them save money, time, and most importantly, lives.”

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit safety advocacy group, the death rate on American roads increased by nearly 22% from pre-pandemic 2019 to 2022.

“The pandemic exacerbated a lot of things we’ve been dealing with for decades,” Heidi Simon, NSC’s program manager of mobility safety strategy, told FleetOwner earlier this year.

However, the annual report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that there were 31,785 traffic fatalities in the United States in the first nine months of 2022, a decrease of 100 compared to the same period in 2021, even as the Federal Highway Administration showed that vehicle miles traveled in the first nine months of 2022 increased by around 39 billion miles, according to Lytx.

While increased distracted driving among passenger vehicles is still a major concern among safety advocates, fleet driver distraction decreased. After analyzing over 36 billion miles of driving data from Lytx DriveCam Event Recorders in 2022, Lytx reported that risky driving events among users fell by 29% from 2019—which a company representative characterized as the last "normal year" before coronavirus-related disruptions.

The report attributed this to more fleets employing coaching tools and workflows that allow fleet managers and drivers to work together to continually identify areas of improvement and reward risk reduction.

Simon stated that increased infrastructure investment from the Department of Transportation, as well as states and local governments, could have made safety gains, adding that she has high hopes for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

See also: Post-accident positive marijuana results reach 25-year high in U.S. workforce

The report also noted that while many of 2021's riskiest driving cities remained in the top five, the busy freight hub of Atlanta improved to number seven, while Dallas-Fort Worth entered the top five. New York City remained number one for the second year in a row.

The number of accidents involving animals among commercial drivers increased by 27% in 2022 compared to 2019 and 12% from 2022 to 2021. 

"Looking at recent years, animal strikes were responsible for a significant percentage of collisions," said Lytx Senior Client Intelligence Analyst Kyle Warlick. "Further, collisions involving animals were up considerably, with a relative dip only [of 1%] in 2020 as overall traffic volumes dropped dramatically. When traffic returned, strikes again increased."

See also: Keep your guard up: How grille guards mitigate deer strikes, other front-end collisions

Readers interested in the full report can read Lytx's 2023 State of the Data report on its website.

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Scott Keith

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