FMSCA’s Top Ten Causes of Truck Accidents

According to a 2006 Federal Motor Carry Safety Administration report, there are approximately 141,000 truck crashes every year and 77,000 of those, or over 50%, are the direct fault of the truck driver. The FMCA also reported that this amounts to 1 in 20 truck drivers will be involved in a truck accident. For years, many people have focused on driver fatigue as playing a major role in truck accidents, however, while fatigue is in the top 10, it is down at number 7 as being the cause of approximately 13% of the truck accidents.
According to the FMCA 2006 report, the top 10 causes of truck accidents are:
1. Prescription drug use – 26%
2. Traveling too fast – 23%
3. Unfamiliar with the roadway – 22%
4. Over the counter drug use – 18%
5. Inadequate surveillance – 14%
6. Fatigue – 13%
7. Illegal maneuver – 9%
8. Exterior distraction – 9%
9. Inadequate evasive action – 7%
10. Aggressive driving – 7%
Many people knowledgeable in the trucking industry believe there should be additional and more detailed training as well as continued education regarding how truck drivers can avoid truck accidents. While many truck drivers or people in the industry would have guessed that traveling too fast is a major contributor to truck accidents, I doubt that most people surveyed would have thought that 26% of truck accidents are caused by prescription drug use with another 18% caused by over the counter drug use, meaning that 44% of all truck accidents are caused in some part by over the counter or prescription drugs.
I believe that this statistic demonstrates that there must be increased training as well as continued education regarding medications that can contribute to truck accidents. It is reported in truck driving schools and many trucking companies use a three minute video during classes showing the dangers of drugs and driving. Many drivers do not fully understand the consequences that simple over the counter drugs can have when driving an 80,000 pound truck down the highway.
As our Interstates and highways become more congested, the number of motor vehicle accidents is going to rise. New statistics show an alarming increase in the rate of truck crashes, many of them preventable. I believe that simple education along with increased surveillance through automated log books coupled with GPS systems can dramatically decrease the number of truck accidents because while 44% of truck accidents can be attributed to prescription drug use or over the counter drug use, an additional 23% are attributed to traveling too fast, 14% to inadequate surveillance, and 13% to fatigue. All of those factors are preventable and by using modern technology, coupled with education regarding drug use, these preventable truck accidents can be drastically reduced.
While the current administration at the FMCA has made steps concerning monitoring companies with poor track records, those monitoring systems should be extended to all truck companies just like the airline industry is required to maintain black box and voice data recorders. Given the number of truck accidents and deaths compared to airplane crashes and deaths, it certainly would be cost effective to implement across the board these new technologies that can save lives.