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Safe Roads

Safe Roads

Safety advocate groups continue to argue that commercial motor vehicle drivers contribute a major danger to road safety. Organizations and political leaders tend to bow to their suggestions in relationship to their own agendas.

The bashing of our professional truck drivers have become all too common and it is time to set the record straight, using factual statistics. is one of the largest voices condemning professional truck drivers and motor carriers concerning highway safety, often mentioning that fatigue is a “contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all heavy truck crashes.”  The problem with this statement is that it is completely false.

Today, the truth is that commercial trucks are involved in 2.4% of all car accidents and more than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver.  Furthermore, only 16% of all truck driving accidents are due to the truck driver’s fault and of those death related accidents, only 4% of trucks are fatigue related.  (Ref: Source 1).

In fact, Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has finally stated that “fatigue” is low on the list for the causes of truck accidents.  According to the FMCSA, truck driver fatigue was a factor in just 1.4% of all fatal truck accidents, this coming from the FMCSA’s own Analysis Division in their report:  “2009: Historic Truck Crash Declines.

Because safety groups are continually discussing the dangerous safety hazards of motor carriers and their truck drivers, it is important to provide actual statistics pertaining to truck crashes and fatality rates, as it compares to the record of auto drivers.

Motor Carrier Safety

The following is a list of 5 large motor carriers showing miles driven per year, reported crashes, number of fatalities resulting from those crashes (average) and the average number of crashes and fatalities per year, per 100,000 miles driven:  (Ref: Source 2).

1.  Schneider National

Miles per year: 1,152,688,659
Reported Crashes: 463
Fatalities: 16.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.401
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0014

2.  Crete Carrier

Miles per year:  524,000,000
Reported Crashes: 198.5
Fatalities: 7.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.037
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0014

3.  J.B. Hunt

Miles per year:  825,156,529
Reported Crashes: 332.5
Fatalities: 10.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.040
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0013

4.  Prime

Miles per year:  542,785,567
Reported Crashes: 253.5
Fatalities: 6.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.047
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0012

5.  Con-Way Freight  (2009 report)

Miles per year:  371,073,137
Reported Crashes: 141
Fatalities: 3
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.038
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0008

When figuring a “Standard Frequency Rate“, 100,000 miles is the standard used.  When looking at accident and fatality rates between auto drivers and truck drivers, the number of average miles driven within a year must be counted into the equation.

A motorist who drives 100,000 miles a year has 20 times the accident exposure risk than a driver who logs 10,000 miles in a year. (Ref: Source 3).  The more miles spent behind the wheel, obviously will raise the accident/fatality factor.

Who would you consider to be the safest driver?  The auto driver with one accident in two years after 24,000 miles or the truck driver with two accidents in two years after 200,000 miles?

Auto Driver Safety Record

Now that we see that five major motor carriers and their professional truck drivers have an over-all accident average of .1126 per 100,000 miles driven and an over-all fatality average of .0012 per 100,000 miles driven . . . let us compare these rates with the non-commercial driver:

  • As of May 19th, 2010 — the fatality rate for auto drivers in the state of Arizona, was 2.1 per 100,000 miles driven.  (Ref: Source 4).

As further examples, for 2007, the last date for available data, the fatality rate for auto drivers, per 100,000 miles driven were:  (Ref: Source 5).

  • Massachusetts — 0.76
  • Rhode Island — 0.80
  • Pennsylvania — 1.37
  • Louisiana — 2.17
  • Montana — 2.45

We now have a comparison of five motor carriers and drivers with an average fatality rate, per 100,000 miles driven of .0012, compared to six states which show an average fatality rate per 100,000 miles driven by non-commercial drivers of 1.608, already a difference of 1.6068 more fatalities.

Crashes involving big trucks make for big news and although one life lost is a tragedy, safety groups and non-commercial drivers need to look at the true, hard facts when it comes to who are really the safest drivers on the road.






© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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