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Truck Safety Coalition criticizes released studies from ATA

The Trucker Staff

2/27/2013

Members of the Truck Safety Coalition strongly rebutted the American Trucking Associations’ release of a study on Feb. 12th that showed 81 percent of crashes were the fault of car drivers compared with 27 percent where truckers were assigned factors.

“We were appalled to see the American Trucking Associations (ATA) renew its fallacious attack on victims of truck crashes,” the letter stated regarding the release of multiple studies. “There is no scientific basis for the allegation that passenger vehicle drivers are the major reason for truck-car fatal crashes – there are no data and no studies which have shown this to be true. Nevertheless, the ATA recently issued this so-called report which rehashes and misuses old studies in order to blame the drivers of passenger vehicles for causing most two vehicle crashes between light passenger vehicles and large trucks.”

The letter was addressed to Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, and Dan England, who was listed as chairman, despite Michael Card taking over the post in October 2012. Others “CC-ed” in the letter (indicating it was possibly emailed) included U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representative committee members involving transportation and to Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Each of the 16 signatures on the letter included a brief synopsis of a relative that had been killed by the negligence of a truck driver. The coalition, which focuses on truck-crash victims and educating lawmakers and the public to make the roadways safer, is a partnership with advocacy groups The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT). Members who signed the letter included Daphne Izer, founder of PATT, and Jane Mathis, a board member of PATT and a member of FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.

ATA’s release cited studies from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, two studies from FMCSA that cited data from 2007-2009 and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study from 2003.

An FMCSA study was cited, which included the following data: In 2007, 85 percent of cars were assigned driver factors versus 26 percent of trucks; 2008, 85 percent of cars were at fault versus 26 of trucks; and 2009, 81 percent of cars were at fault versus 22 percent of trucks.

The letter criticized the ATA for the “unscientific rehash and misuse of old studies,” claiming the UMTRI report that compared 81 percent of car drivers responsible for crashes versus 26 percent of truckers was from 1998-99. The full study by ATA does cite the reports from the late 1990s, stating it was “one of the most exhaustive studies of U.S. fatal car-truck crashes.”

The letter also cites various studies that contradict ATA’s findings, ranging from 1986 to 2003.

“As you well know, in 2010, 3,675 people were killed and 80,000 more were injured in truck-related crashes on U.S. highways,” the letter stated. “Fatalities in large truck crashes increased in 2010 by nearly nine percent, and then increased once again in 2011, while overall traffic fatalities decreased during both years.”

The letter cited current figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that while large trucks only account for about 4 percent of the national fleet, they are involved in about “13 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths.”

“The ATA, however, continues to engage in the 'blame game,' asserting that about seven out of ten deaths resulting from truck-related crashes are the fault of passenger vehicle drivers,” the letter stated. “This claim has repeatedly been shown to be false, is based on misuse of past studies and data, and has been openly rejected by DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).”

The letter also added: “It is long past time for the ATA, and the trucking industry as a whole, to stop the cruel public relations game of shifting attention away from the unacceptable death toll caused by big trucks on our nation’s roads.”

Graves said along with the initial release of the report that “every crash and every fatality and injury suffered on our nation’s highways is a tragedy.”

“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,” Graves added.

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

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