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ATA cites studies showing car drivers more at fault in crashes than truckers

In a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study cars were the encroaching vehicle in 89 percent of head-on crashes; in 88 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes; in 80 percent of rear-end crashes and in 72 percent of same-direction side-swipes. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

2/12/2013

Once again driving home its point that it’s important for the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to fairly address crash accountability, the American Trucking Associations today released results from several studies that found car drivers to be far more at fault in causing crashes than truckers.

In a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study car drivers were assigned factors in 81 percent of crashes compared with 27 percent of truckers. Those totals were greater than 100 percent, the study noted, because 10 percent of crashes assigned blame to both car and truck drivers. This report assigned driver factors to 8,309 car-truck crashes as a proxy for fault.

Also in the UMTRI study: Cars were the encroaching vehicle in 89 percent of head-on crashes; in 88 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes; in 80 percent of rear-end crashes and in 72 percent of same-direction side-swipes, which it said were “obvious indicators of fault.”

In a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, cars were assigned driver factors in 91 percent of head-on crashes; 91 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes, 71 percent of rear-end crashes and 77 percent of same-direction sideswipes. Trucks, however, were the encroaching vehicle in 98 percent of backing accidents, although this represented less than 1 percent of the sample set. This 2003 study assigned causal driver factors in 10,092 fatalities.

Thirty-six percent of car drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts in an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study while only 11 percent of truck drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts. This study examined 10,732 fatal accidents

Two studies from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) were cited by ATA. In the first, 85 percent of cars and 26 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors in 2007; 85 percent of cars versus 25 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors in 2008 and in 2009, 81 percent of cars versus 22 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors in crashes. The figures are from annual large truck and bus crash data assigning driver factors in 6,131 car-truck fatalities.

The second FMCSA study was taken from a smaller data set of 221 fatal accidents (large truck crash causation study) which found 77 percent of cars were assigned driver factors while 23 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors.

“Every crash and every fatality and injury suffered on our nation’s highways is a tragedy,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “But it is also tragic that carriers and drivers across this country are saddled with guilt and blame for many crashes they could do nothing to prevent.”

To read the full study click here.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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