The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking to conduct a new study regarding the causes of large truck crashes. The agency is seeking public comments on how to best design and conduct this study, which will aim to identify factors contributing to large truck crashes that involve towaways, injury and fatalities.
Specifically, the agency is looking for input regarding how to sample representatives, comprehensive data sources, ranges of crash types and cost efficiency. According to the official document posted on the Federal Register on January 15, the study aims to yield information that will help to identify activities and other measures that will likely lead to a reduction in crashes.
According to the published document, this study will follow a comprehensive large truck crash causation study conducted from 2001 to 2003. This study collected data on crashes at 24 sites of NHTSA’s National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System and used a “nationally representative approach.” In order to be counted in the initial study, the crash had to have involved a truck with a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds and resulted in at least one fatality or at least one evident injury.
Interviews were performed at the crash scene from the driver, passenger and witnesses. Data collected included trip information, weather and road conditions, driver credentials, distractions and other potential causation factors.
It has been more than 15 years since the original study was conducted. In that time, there have been several changes in technology, vehicle safety, driver behavior and roadways. 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% increase when compared to 2009. Over the last three years (2016- 2018), fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 5.7%, according to the document.
This study will help to identify factors that are contributing to the growth in fatal large truck crashes, and in both injury and property damage only (PDO) crashes. These factors will help to drive new initiatives to reduce crashes. 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 (AEB) systems.
Findings from the new study can be used to inform technology developers in the autonomous vehicle environment of the kinds of driver behaviors that need to be addressed.
Public comments will be accepted until March 16, 2020 and can be made on the Federal Register’s website. Click here to view the full document and submit a formal comment.
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