FMCSA report shows continued trucking safety progress

Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations president and chief executive officer, praised the nation’s truck drivers, safety directors, and law enforcement officers for their contribution to continued progress in the industry’s safety record.

“Based on the latest report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fatal crashes involving a large truck have fallen 31% from 2007 to 2009 and crashes resulting in injury have fallen 30%,” said Graves after a review of FMCSA’s 2009 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts, recently posted on the agency’s website.

The report says the large truck fatal crash rate fell to 1.0 crashes per 100 million miles in 2009 from 1.1 crashes per 100 million miles traveled in 2008. Since 2000, the fatal crash rate for large trucks has fallen 54.5%—more than twice as much as the passenger vehicle fatal crash rate, which dropped 25%—in the same time period.

Graves also chided FMCSA for not doing more to share this good news about trucking’s safety progress.

“These results deserve to be heralded as tremendous progress and very good news for American motorists, our industry and our industry’s regulators,” said Graves. “However, FMCSA has chosen not to highlight these important results. By not celebrating this success, the agency is doing itself a disservice. These results are as much an achievement for FMCSA as they are for the nation’s trucking industry. We are at a loss on why FMCSA chose not to communicate this final data indicating great safety progress.”

Highlights of FMCSA’s 2009 report include:

•From 2007 to 2009, the number of fatal truck-involved crashes fell 31% to 3,215 from 4,633.

•Over that same time frame, the fatal crash rate for large trucks fell 27%.

•Since 2000, the fatal crash rate has fallen from 2.2 crashes per 100 million miles to one crash per 100 million miles. Due to undisclosed changes to formulas used to calculate miles traveled, the bulk of that decline appears to occur after 2007.

•Most fatal multivehicle crashes (59%) recorded were the result of a passenger vehicle rear-ending a truck, crossing the median to hit a truck head-on, or hitting a truck in some other way, as coded in the government’s database. In less than 40% of cases, the crash was the result of the truck striking the car.

•In fatal crashes where the database records a “driver-related” factor, 80.5% of the time the factor was assigned to driver of a passenger vehicle compared with 22% of factors being assigned to the commercial driver.

•The most common driver-related factors for commercial drivers are speed (7.3%), failure to maintain lane (6.5%), and inattentiveness (5.7%). Being drowsy, asleep, or fatigued was the seventh most common factor at 1.4%.

•The plurality of fatal crashes—31.3%—occur between 6 am and noon. Conversely, only 17.2% of crashes occur between midnight and 6 am.

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