ATA: Car-truck crashes often caused by automobile drivers

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently released a report that highlighted automobile drivers, not truckers, as a primary factor in accidents that involve both types of vehicles, supporting a more balanced view of trucking industry safety performance on the road.

Research conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute indicated car drivers were likely at fault in car-truck accidents 81 percent of the time, when both drivers were assigned factors such as driving too fast for conditions, improper following and prohibited lane usage. The data showed car drivers were at fault in 89 percent of head-on collisions, 88 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes, 80 percent of rear-end accidents and 72 percent of same-direction sideswipes. Many feel truckers are often unfairly blamed for such accidents, even if they weren't at fault.

"The principal policy reason for evaluating relative contribution and the nature of errors that increase crash risk is to design and implement cost-effective truck safety programs that yield the greatest safety benefits," said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. "In the context of prevention and countermeasures, it's critical to understand relative contribution since cars are involved in the majority of truck crashes. 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."

Safety comes first 
Many fleet managers are doing a good job providing proper training for their drivers and maintenance for their trucks, but carriers can never be too careful when creating new policies and practices. Keeping standards high and drivers collision-free can lead to higher federal Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) scores that are critical to a commercial carrier or private fleet team. 

Transportation companies can work to ensure drivers follow best practices and stay safe by implementing the use of transportation management software. Programs such as this can help assure drivers follow training and skill testing certification schedules and stay in touch with fleet managers while on the road to communicate potentially hazardous driving conditions. Another critical safety element is proper maintenance for fleet vehicles. Fleet maintenance management software can help carriers comply with DOT inspection standards and contribute to keeping commercial drivers operating safely on the road.