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November 14, 2022
ATRI: Previous crashes, violations predict future crashes

More than 25 different indicators signal an increased likelihood of a future commercial motor vehicle crash, according to a recent report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). Simply having a previous crash increased a truck driver’s probability of having a future crash by 113%, according to the ATRI.

Other consistently strong indicators of a future crash include the following violations or convictions:

  • Reckless driving violation,
  • Failure-to-use/improper signal conviction,
  • Failure to yield right-of-way violation, and
  • Improper or erratic lane changes conviction.

The ATRI’s first published its “Predicting Truck Crash Involvement” research in 2005, with updates in 2011, 2018, and 2022. The institute designed and tested a predictive model to identify statistically significant relationships between truck driver safety behaviors and future crash probability. 

The 2022 report uses the same statistical methods as used in earlier reports and is based on more than 580,000 individual truck driver records.

The 2022 crash predictor update includes several new analyses, including a safety comparison between 18- and 20-year-old truck drivers and those older than 24 years. Certain characteristics of younger drivers can be problematic for safety, according to the report. Problematic attributes include perception, cognition, overestimation of driving skill, and a lack of ability to appreciate potential consequences and adjust actions. However, the youngest drivers, aged 20–24, had lower probabilities for future crashes, or were safer, for 7 of the 22 behaviors that were found to be significant, including having a past crash.

The report noted a decrease in the number of hours-of-service (HOS) violations since the implementation of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. It was ostensibly easier to manipulate paper logbook records or maintain multiple logbooks before the ELD mandate, according to the ATRI. However, the institute reported there is little research showing a correlation between ELD utilization and any increase or decrease in fatigue-related crashes.

The ATRI noted University of Arkansas research found that in attempting to comply with HOS regulations, drivers may be sacrificing other safety practices. For example, by one measure, single-truck carriers had 43% fewer HOS violations but a 26% increase in unsafe driving violations.

The report also revisits the safety of male versus female truck drivers, with female drivers continuing to be safer than their male counterparts. According to the report, male drivers continue to be more likely than female drivers to have violations, convictions, and crash involvement for all statistically significant events.
The study also found that while females represented 6.7% of the truck driver workforce in 2019, females represented only 2.7% of the 2019 driver inspections. The ATRI offered a few hypotheses for the phenomenon:

  • Female drivers work for safer motor carriers.
  • Female truck drivers are waved through inspections more frequently than male truck drivers.
  • Females drive newer, cleaner, and/or better-maintained trucks.
  • Females avoid driving in winter conditions.
  • Female drivers tend to be more cautious.

The report also includes an updated list of the 10 Top Tier States for truck safety, ranked by the relationship between traffic enforcement inspections and crashes. The 2022 Top Tier States for truck safety are:

  • Washington
  • Indiana
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • Massachusetts
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois
  • California
  • Michigan
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