ATA's CEO Calls for New Large Truck Crash Study

"We recognize that recent data indicates that truck-involved crashes are increasing," ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said June 12 at a congressional hearing. "Our industry does not deny this. We do, however, require accurate data that can direct our efforts and resources in appropriately addressing and halting this increase."

Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), called for a new large truck crash causation study when he testified June 12 at a hearing of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Highways & Transit. "We recognize that recent data indicates that truck-involved crashes are increasing," Spear said. "Our industry does not deny this. We do, however, require accurate data that can direct our efforts and resources in appropriately addressing and halting this increase. Understanding the role of driver behavior in crash causation will shed additional light on how FMCSA's use of enforcement funding and resulting activity can be most cost-effective."

In his written testimony as posted on the committee's website, Spear said "multiple studies, data, and other indicators" show that "the vast majority of large truck-involved crashes are the result of driver behaviors and errors. Furthermore, data indicates that other motorists, not the professional truck driver, are more likely to be at fault."

He cited a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report that found 70 percent of fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle were initiated by the actions of, or were the fault of, passenger motorists. as well as an American Automobile Association study that found the critical factor leading to a large truck crash was attributed to the passenger vehicle driver 75 percent of the time, and that in 10,732 fatal car-truck crash records from 1995-98, the car drivers were more likely to be cited for multiple unsafe acts -- 36 percent of the car drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts versus 11 percent of the truck drivers.

"Just as a [large truck crash causation study] will help identify the cause of large truck crashes, unified electronic crash report data will help to provide accurate and timely data on truck-involved crashes," Spear said. "Several states have already adopted electronic collection of crash reports, and many have seen the ability to provide more timely and accurate information to stakeholders. 'Real-time' data allows law enforcement and transportation safety professionals to respond more quickly to escalating trends and 'hot spots' and helps ensure limited resources are allocated to areas with greatest need. ATA supports federal funding for states to adopt electronic crash report data collection, along with funding support to upgrade existing systems, implement NHTSA's Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria data fields, and training of staff on new systems."

He pointed out that ATA was an early advocate for mandatory drug and alcohol testing, the commercial driver's license program, a ban on radar detectors in trucks, and the soon-to-be-implemented drug and alcohol clearinghouse.

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