Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949 according to federal safety officials. Bicyclists deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20% while overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent.
The increase in bicycle deaths may reflect more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure, according to Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies.
For example, in Washington, D.C. there has been at 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004.
The increase in large truck accidents in death may be more difficult to ascertain. The NHTSA is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase. Industry officials suspect there may be a connection between states increasing their speed limits and the increase in deaths. Texas has increased the speed limit to 85 mph on Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio, with a correlating increase in accidents.