Thursday, April 19, 2012

Car-truck fatalities, get that stat right

About 12 years ago, I interviewed a guy named Dan Blower, a researcher with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. He was the guy whose study revealed that most of the car-truck fatalities were not the fault of the trucker. Yes. THAT guy.

Dan warned me that when we used that statistic, we needed to be sure to get it right. He figured many people would give it an inaccurate twist. While 75 percent of car-truck fatalities are not the trucker’s fault, it does not mean that it is the fault of the four-wheeler. It could have been due to weather, deer in the road, whatever.

Dan’s prediction was right on the money. I see the inaccuracy repeated frequently. Just today, I read it in a major transportation newsletter.

He also told me something that knocked me out. He said that even if truckers NEVER made an error, if the truckers NEVER operated in an unsafe manner, if they were all perfect – only a minority of the car-truck fatal crashes would be eliminated.

This is a fact our government and our safety advocates can’t seem to get a grip on.

Why is that so hard to understand? And why can’t we keep this in mind when we are expending such massive sums and creating such efforts to make trucks toe the safety mark?

I don’t see one-fourth of that effort aimed at the documented more dangerous drivers like elderly drivers who should have parked it years ago, or inexperienced teenagers who race up and down the highway every day with radios booming, three in front and four in the back, no seat belts, zipping in and out of traffic.

If we want to reduce car-truck crashes, the nation needs to place appropriate balance on improving the actions of the OTHER vehicles on the road.


  1. And perhaps equally or more important is the per centage of highway fatalities that do NOT involve a truck.
    So all of the new rules and bureaucracy are chasing an ever smaller fraction of the problem that is in the control of truck drivers.

  2. The reason washington can't grab this is because there are more voters in cars than trucks and they are just plain intellectual hard heads.

    1. If our elected and appointed govermental "officals" are acredited as "intellectual hard heads" I think the intellectual credit should be dropped when describing them.

  3. Apparently is it REQUIRED that Federal officials make the trucking industry look as bad as possible in order to justify the onerous regulations being heaped onto the backs of truck drivers! Think it isn't so??? Look at the sleep apnea push . . . the medical community needs a FUNDED control group to do their testing, and what better group than a bunch of people who work long hours, have a hard time getting enough appropriate exercise, are on the highway 300+ days a year, and drive vehicles bigger than most anyone else on the road! To add insult to injury, the TRUCKER is going to pay for privilege of having the test done AND for the guaranteed sale of medical equipment afterward!! Talk about something which should be unconstitutional!!

    Distorting facts is what the Federal gov't does best to get the desired results. My husband and I beginning to wonder how long before they will REQUIRE people like us who are small owner-operators to be part of one of the Big Boys so we can continue to truck!! They will give us a choice: join up OR quit!!!!

    I am convinced that NONE of the current regulations are being initiated in the name of safety, and am quite sure that there is a lobby group working hard to get rid of the small businesses like us. WHY??? So the big get bigger and the small disappear . . . isn't that what is happening all across America these days?

  4. I would like to thank you for knowing what is going on with the stats and our goverment.
    It has never been about saftey, it's about goverment control,money and what they can sell to who.

  5. I am really getting paranoid about the government. My company sent out a memo telling us not to unbuckle our seat belts when we are stopped because one of our drivers was ticketed because the officer said he wasn't wearing a belt when he came to the door. Pretty desperate ticket by the officer in my opinion.

    Another memo warned about not having a BL number or description of freight on log. Incomplete log is a big fine but does the penalty fit the crime? After more than 40 years as a driver with an excellent record of safety neither of these had a thing to do with safety except maybe mine.

    Stress on the road is bad enough but being expected to be perfect all the time is stress I don't need. I was stopped at a scale the other day because the officer said his state didn't have a current address for my company. He did a level three and found everything in order. I checked with my company about the address problem and they discovered the officer was looking at the wrong company. He didn't check the DOT number. If he was me he would have been punished with a fine and a bad mark on his record for his mistake.


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