JEFFERSON CITY - Sept. 19-25 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, and one thing we can all appreciate is the fact that in the last five years, the number of fatal crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is down significantly.
Since 2005, the number of fatal crashes involving a commercial motor vehicle is down from 173 to 88 - 49.1 percent. The number of fatalities resulting from those crashes fell 52 percent from 205 to 99.
"We looked at the reasons these crashes occurred, and found that since 2005, fewer lane departure crashes were reported each year," said Jan Skouby, MoDOT Motor Carrier Services director.
Cross-median commercial motor vehicle fatal crashes - those caused when either a truck or a passenger car crosses a divided highway - fell from 20 to 3 between 2005 and 2009, an 85 percent reduction. Fatal crashes caused by any type of lane departure fell from 136 to 62 - 54.4 percent.
"Professional drivers practice defensive driving. They must pay attention to the job at hand and watch people in other lanes so they can react should something go awry," said Tom Crawford, president of the Missouri Trucking Association. "Everyone should learn defensive driving skills to increase the odds that they can avoid a crash."
In addition to professional drivers' concern for those on the road, several factors contributed to the reduction. Visibility improvements, rumble stripes and other engineering solutions help drivers stay in the driving lanes. Emergency response time in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas has improved. And, because of the economy, both passenger cars and commercial trucks are traveling slightly less.
Safety is emphasized by motor carriers and law enforcement organizations - including the Missouri State Highway Patrol, MoDOT Motor Carrier Services Safety and Compliance team and metropolitan police departments - which educate and enforce state and federal law.
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