FMCSA to study causes of truck crashes; seeks comments

Updated Jan 19, 2020

The federal government plans to once again study what causes big-truck crashes and is asking for comments and suggestions from the trucking industry and the rest of the public.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s notice seeking comments appeared in the Federal Register today. Comments may be made online. Comments must be received on or before March 16.

The FMCSA’s previous crash-related study covered 2001 to 2003 and was released in 2006.

The new study is meant to help improve the agency’s ability to evaluate crashes involving large trucks, monitor crash trends and identify causes and contributing factors and develop effective safety policies and programs. The agency “seeks information on how best to design and conduct a study to identify factors contributing to all FMCSA reportable large truck crashes (tow-away, injury and fatal),” according to today’s notice.

Today’s posting in the Federal Register said:

“In the more than 15 years since the original study, many changes in technology, vehicle safety, driver behavior and roadway design have occurred that effect how a driver performs. Since the study ended in 2003, fatal crashes involving large trucks decreased until 2009 when they hit their lowest point in recent years (2,893 fatal crashes). Since 2009, fatal crashes involving large trucks have steadily increased to 4,415 fatal crashes in 2018, a 52.6 percent increase when compared to 2009. Over the last three years (2016–2018), fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 5.7 percent. This study will help FMCSA identify factors that are contributing to the growth in fatal large truck crashes, and in both injury and property damage only crashes. These factors will drive new initiatives to reduce crashes on our nations roadways.

“This includes factors such as the dramatic increase in distraction caused by cell phones and texting, the level of driver restraint use, the advent of in-cab navigation and fleet management systems, as well as equipment designed to enhance safety, such as automatic emergency braking systems.”

The FMCSA said “findings from the study can be used to inform technology developers in the autonomous vehicle environment of the kinds of driver behaviors that need to be addressed.”