The Oregon Department of Transportation says there was a rate of 0.49 large truck crashes per million vehicle miles traveled in 2017, and apparently that’s a huge increase. But David House, an ODOT spokesman, said, “We attribute that largely to the severe winter weather of the 2016-17 winter, especially some storms in early 2017 which would show up in that calendar year,” House said. “And since then we don’t have final results yet for 2018 but the rate has gone back to a more normal, what’s more normal in terms of crashes per million vehicle miles traveled.”
House acknowledged to KATU there had been a spike in 2017, but then also said the numbers had returned to normal.
But then, a local trucking industry leader got defensive, probably unaware of ODOT’s view that there’s no real story, and told the news organization, “It doesn’t surprise me that when business is strong and there are lots of trucks on the road that there’s going to be a lot more potential for accidents,” said Jana Jarvis, CEO of the Oregon Trucking Associations. “2018 was a record year for the trucking industry. There’s probably more volume and trucking than we have seen in recorded history.”
Meanwhile, There is a Real Story
House and Jarivs do agree on one thing: distracted driving is a serious problem. House told KATU that overall crashes in Oregon increased by a whopping 33 percent from 2006 to 2016, and both he and Jarvis largely blame distracted driving.
KATU notably concludes their report, revealing that nationwide, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says, “There were 12 fatal large truck crashes per million people in the United States in 2016, a 13-percent increase from 10.6 in 2010.”