Diesel prices are at an all-time high, unleashing considerable pain on the trucking industry. While it’s hard to see the upside to rising fuel prices, STC thinks if we squint just right, there may be a silver lining. Let us explain.
Despite the pandemic induced 11% reduction in overall vehicle miles traveled between 2019 and 2020, fatal crashes increased by 6.8%, resulting in a fatality rate of 1.34 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase of 21%, and the highest rate since 2007. In nearly half of the crashes, speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing a seat belt were contributing factors. While this data is sobering, given the dramatic increase in fuel prices recently, STC wonders whether less discretionary travel by the public and reduced speeds by the trucking community eager to cut fuel costs might decrease crashes. History suggests it might.
In 2009, the year following the largest fuel price spike in history, we saw the largest year-over-year reduction in the fatal crash rate among large trucks and buses. Next in line? 1982, the year after another staggering fuel price increase. There are some parts of history we’d rather not see repeat themselves, particularly dramatic fuel price spikes, but we suppose we’ll take the good that might come with the bad on this one. Hopefully, that trend continues. Of course, we can’t rely on fuel prices to reduce crashes!
STC believes we need to take advantage of this moment and come together as a community to change the culture of the driving population. We should no longer accept these risky behaviors and the tragedies they cause. Lives are being lost, families and businesses are being impacted, and those inflicting these tragic circumstances need to be held accountable for their actions.