Large Truck Crashes and Aggressive Ticketing

by : gregchapman

Large trucks account for a disproportionately large share of traffic deaths based on miles traveled. The fatal crash rate for large trucks is 50 percent greater than the rate for all vehicles on the roads.

Fatalities from large truck crashes have increased approximately 10 percent from 1995 through 1998, moving up from 4,918 deaths in 1995 to 5,374 deaths in 1998. Large trucks - including tractor-trailers, single-unit trucks and certain heavy cargo vans with gross weight more than 10,000 pounds - account for a disproportionately large share of traffic deaths based on miles traveled. The fatal crash rate for large trucks is 2.6 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled more than 50 percent greater than the rate for all vehicles on the roads.

Surveys indicate that many highway motorists are intimidated by the mere size of a truck or bus. When you combine this perception with a highway crash and the resulting roadway congestion, the public image of the motor carrier industry takes a beating no matter who caused the crash. By driving safely to prevent crashes, you can improve that image and save time, money, and, most importantly, lives.

When driving on the highway, motorists are at a serious disadvantage if involved in a crash with a larger vehicle. In crashes involving large trucks, the occupants of a car, usually the driver, sustain 78 percent of reported fatalities. In order to keep you and your family safe when driving around large trucks and buses, you should be extra cautious. Sharing the road with larger vehicles can be dangerous if you are not aware of their limitations. Read the car driver safety tips to help you prevent an accident and minimize injuries and fatalities if one does occur.

To help reduce crashes and fatalities, Congress directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work together to educate motorists on how to share the road safely with commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

The result of this government collaboration was the development of the Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) program-a high-visibility traffic enforcement program that uses communication, enforcement, and evaluation activities to reduce CMV-related crashes, fatalities, and injuries.

In the fall of 2004, Washington was selected as the first pilot State for the TACT program. Based on the success of the Washington State TACT program and other traffic enforcement programs such as Click It or Ticket, FMCSA encourages additional States to undertake TACT programs on roadways with injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes between cars and trucks.
The TACT program combines outreach, education, and evaluation with targeted enforcement activities to raise awareness among car and truck drivers about safe driving behaviors. Unsafe driving behaviors may include, but are not limited to: unsafe lane changes, tailgating, failing to signal lane changes, failing to yield the right of way, speeding, and aggressive driving (a combination of two or more behaviors).


* 5,374 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 1998, representing thirteen percent of all traffic fatalities. Of these, 78 percent were occupants of another vehicle, 14 percent were large truck occupants and 8 percent were non-occupants. An additional 123,000 people were injured in those crashes. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA)
* In 1997, large trucks made up three percent of all registered vehicles and seven percent of all vehicle miles traveled. Yet, large trucks constituted nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes, and four percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage-only crashes that year. (NHTSA, 1999)
* In 1998, large trucks were more likely to be involved in a fatal multiple-vehicle crashes opposed to a single-vehicle crash than were passenger vehicles (84 percent of all large trucks in fatal crashes, compared with 62 percent of all passenger vehicles). (NHTSA, 1999)
* One out of eight traffic crash fatalities in 1998 was the result of a collision involving a large truck. (NHTSA, 1999)
* Most of the fatal crashes involving large trucks occur in rural areas (67 percent), during the day (68 percent) and on weekdays (80 percent). (NHTSA, 1999)
* A loaded tractor-trailer requires 20-40 percent further stopping distance than a car. With an empty trailer, the discrepancy between the truck and the car is even greater. (NHTSA, 1999)
* Of the trucks with out-of-service violations, more than one-third of them have problems with brakes. (Federal Highway Administration, 1998)
* All new tractors and trailers are required to have anti-lock brakes. Anti-lock braking systems are effective in preventing wheel lock and loss of steering in emergency stopping, especially on wet roads.
* Federal regulations allow drivers of large trucks to drive up to 16 hours a day. However, drivers under the regulations can compile 60 hours in less than five days by alternating ten hours of maximum permitted continuous driving with the minimum eight hours off duty. Surveys reveal that many drivers of large trucks violate the regulations on hours of service. Studies also show that driver fatigue plays a role in large truck crashes and that drivers are more likely to crash after many long hours of driving. (IIHS) The Department of Transportation is currently considering a revision of these hours-of-service rules.
* Almost 30 percent of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 1998 had at least one prior conviction for speeding, compared to slightly less than 20 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA, 1999)