Study: Driver Behavior Causes Most Truck Crashes

Drivers of large trucks and other vehicles involved in truck crashes are 10 times more likely to be the cause of the crash than other factors such as weather, road conditions and vehicle performance, according to a new study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

"This study makes it clear that we need to spend more time addressing driver behavior, as well as making sure trucks and buses are fit for the road," FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg said. "The multitude of data now available will allow us to analyze specific areas of behavior and work with our industry and safety partners to develop an agenda on driver safety that will improve commercial motor vehicle driver performance."

The "Large Truck Crash Causation Study" was commissioned by FMCSA to review the causes of, and contributing factors to, crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. While previous data focused on specific crashes and/or individual causes of crashes, this study was the first nationwide examination of all pre-crash factors, according to the agency.

FMCSA says it will conduct analysis to further examine driver factors such as use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, speeding, fatigue, inattention, distractions, work environment and unfamiliarity with the road.

The study, conducted with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, investigated a national sample of fatal and injury crashes between April 2001 and December 2003 at 24 sites in 17 states. Each crash involved at least one large truck and resulted in at least one fatality or injury.

The total sample of 967 crashes included 1,127 large trucks, 959 non-truck motor vehicles, 251 fatalities and 1,408 injuries. Action or inaction by the driver of either the truck or other vehicle was the critical reason for 88 percent of the crashes, according to FMCSA.

The agency says the data offer "unprecedented detail" about the events surrounding truck crashes that are not available anywhere else. The study database eventually will be available to the public to encourage further analysis and increase the knowledge about large-truck crash factors.

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