The first and only FMCSA-funded large truck crash causation study was completed in 2006, almost 15 years ago. In fact, the crash data used in that landmark study is even older–it was collected between 2001 and 2003. This study was done before smartphones, on-board video event recorders, automatic emergency braking systems on cars and trucks, and long before mandatory ELDs.
With all types of truck crashes trending in the wrong direction for a decade (since 2009), it’s time for the trucking industry to push for, and work with, our government to quickly fund and conduct new crash causation research to identify the most prominent causative factors. We know that driver behavior (truck and car drivers) is the biggest part of the crash problem, but are we confident in what behaviors are currently causing the majority of large truck crashes? Has driver distraction overtaken speeding/aggressive driving, following too closely, and unsafe lane changes, as the biggest crash cause/factor? Has driver alertness/fatigue fallen even further down the list of causation factors? Have new advanced driver assistance systems changed the nature/types of serious truck crashes? Do car driver actions still initiate and cause more than two-thirds of the serious large truck crashes? It may sound obvious but, to reverse the decade-long large truck crash trends, we need to know the biggest problems in order to implement the best and most cost-effective solutions. It seems to us at STC that it’s past time for a new, well-designed, and well-funded study. Lives depend on it. Let’s get on with it.