The trend in Germany regarding heavy-duty trucks and semi-trailer tractors remains positive
Looking at the figures for 2017, the provisional accident statistics published by the German Federal Statistical Office show a significant increase in the number of goods transport vehicle occupants suffering fatal injuries, while an overall decline was observed in the number of traffic fatalities. To put this into figures: a total of 168 fatalities – an increase of 35 fatalities or approximately 26 percent compared with the previous year. However, closer examination of the figures shows that the increase primarily concerns the occupants of light-duty commercial vehicles weighing up to 3.5 metric tons (i.e. vans), for which statistics indicate an increase of 32 fatalities. In the case of occupants of trucks weighing over 3.5 tons, the number of fatalities has decreased by three; in the case of semi-trailer tractor occupants, this figure has increased by five.
If occupants are not taken into account, but instead the number of fatalities overall in accidents involving light- or heavy-duty commercial vehicles, a similar picture emerges: In 2017, 235 people died in accidents involving vans – a third more than in the previous year. At the same time, a small decrease can be observed in the number of fatalities in accidents involving trucks and articulated trucks. In total, 15 people fewer died in accidents involving both groups of heavy-duty commercial vehicles than in 2016.
A look at France and the USA
The long-term trend in other EU member states such as France is also positive. The number of fatalities resulting from accidents involving commercial vehicles weighing over 3.5 metric tons between 2000 and 2010 fell by an average of 6.3 percent per annum in France; from 2010, this figure decreased by around two percent each year. According to information provided by the “Observatoire national interministériel de la sécurité routière (ONISR)” (French Road Safety Observatory), however, this figure increased by 4.2 percent in 2016 compared with 2015, from 473 to 493 fatalities. Car occupants accounted for around a half of these, unprotected road users – such as pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists – accounted for a third, while van drivers accounted for ten percent. 55 of the 493 fatalities were heavy- duty commercial vehicle occupants. 63 percent died in accidents on rural roads, 19 percent died in urban areas and 18 percent died on highways. The trend regarding accidents involving vans weighing up to 3.5 metric tons in 2016 at least is very alarming: The number of fatalities rose by almost 13 percent from 373 to 420 compared with the previous year. After years of this figure decreasing, it was back to the level of 2010. Van occupants accounted for 130 fatalities, which equates to an increase of 8.3 percent compared with the previous year. 67 percent of people killed in accidents involving vans died on rural roads, 23 percent died in urban areas and 10 percent died on highways. According to the preliminary estimates of ONISR, a significant decrease can be observed with respect to the 2017 figures for accidents involving goods transport vehicles weighing over and under 3.5 metric tons .
The situation has been less positive in the USA for a number of years now. According to information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHT ty NHTSA), the number of fatalities resulting from traffic accidents involving goods transport vehicles in the USA dropped by almost 20 percent from 4245 to 3380 from 2008 to 2009. Since then, however, this figure has more or less continuously increased – even going beyond the 2008 level. In 2016, 4317 people died in accidents involving goods transport vehicles in the USA; the increase between 2014 and 2016 alone was around ten percent. Of the 4317 fatalities, 3127 (72 percent) were occupants of other vehicles (an increase of four percent compared with 2015), 722 (17 percent) were goods transport vehicle occupants (an increase of eight percent compared with 2015) and 468 (11 percent) were unprotected road users such as pedestrians or cyclists (an increase of 13 percent compared with 2015).