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New FMCSA Report Shows Improvements in Trucking Safety

Fatal crashes involving a large truck fell 31% from 2007 to 2009 and crashes resulting in injury fell 30%, according to the latest report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—2009 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts—recently posted on FMCSA’s website.

In addition, 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 just 25% - in the same time period.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves praised the efforts of the nation’s truck drivers, safety directors and law enforcement officers for their contribution to the continued progress in the industry’s safety record.

“These safety gains,” Graves said, “are the result of many things, sensible regulation, improvements in technology, slower more fuel efficient driving, the dedication of professional drivers and safety directors as well as more effective enforcement techniques that look at all the factors involved in crashes, not just a select few.”

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,” Graves said. “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 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts:

  • 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 1 crash per 100 million miles. Due to undisclosed changes the formulas used to calculate miles traveled, the bulk of that decline appears to occur after 2007.
  • The majority of 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 just 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 6am and noon. Conversely, only 17.2% of crashes occur between midnight and 6am.
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