- August 15th, 2016

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA), P.L. 106-159, mandated a study to determine the causes of, and contributing factors to, crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a multiyear, nationwide study of factors that contribute to truck crashes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) identifies areas that need to be addressed by effective crash countermeasures.

A nationally representative sample of large-truck fatal and injury crashes was investigated during 2001 to 2003 at 24 sites in 17 States. Each crash involved at least one large truck and resulted in at least one fatality or injury. Data were collected on up to 1,000 elements in each crash. The total sample involved 967 crashes, which included 1,127 large trucks, 959 non-truck motor vehicles, 251 fatalities, and 1,408 injuries.

An action or inaction by the drivers of the truck or the other vehicles involved were important reasons leading to crashes in a large majority of the cases. Driver recognition and decision errors were the type of driver mistakes coded by crash investigators or law enforcement officials most often for the trucks and passenger vehicles. Truck drivers, however, were coded less frequently for both driving performance errors and non-performance problems (e.g., asleep, sick, incapacitated) than passenger vehicle drivers. In crashes between trucks and passenger vehicles, driving too fast for conditions and fatigue were important factors cited for both drivers. However, fatigue was coded twice as often for passenger vehicle drivers, and speeding more often for truck drivers.

Brake problems were coded for almost 30 percent of the trucks but only 5 percent of the passenger vehicles. Roadway problems were present in 16 percent of the two-vehicle cases, and adverse weather conditions were present in approximately 13 percent of the crashes. Interruption in the traffic flow (previous crash, work zone, rush hour congestion, etc.) was coded in almost 25 percent of the two-vehicle crashes.

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