by Sean Kilcarr
In nine out of 10 cases, truck-car crashes result from driver error, the majority of those by the car driver. That unsurprising conclusion—for the trucking community at least—was gleaned from a recent review by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) of several truck-car collision studies .
ATA is not alone in coming to this conclusion. Research of 10,092 fatalities conducted in 2003 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assigned driver factors in 91% of head-on crashes, 91% of opposite-direction sideswipes, 71% of rear-end crashes, and 77% of same-direction sideswipes.
A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute survey of 8,309 fatal truck-car crashes assigned car drivers as the factor in 81% of crashes versus 27% of truck drivers (the totals are greater than 100% because 10% of crashes assigned both the car and truck driver as factors). Even the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which examined 10,732 fatal truck-car accidents, found that 36% of car drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts compared to just 11% of truck drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration itself, in its Large Truck Crash Causation Study, assigned 77% of the driver error factors to cars versus 23% of trucks in 221 fatal accidents studied.
Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but all of that data might indicate that truckers are safer drivers than many think.