Study Finds Past Trucker Driving Behavior Can Be Used to Predict Future Crash Risk

Is it possible to predict a trucker’s future crash risk?

A new study suggests that’s the case, identifying more than two dozen separate truck driving violations/convictions that appear to increase the likelihood of a future accident.

The Killino Firm’s Truck Accident Lawyers believe the victims of reckless and negligent truckers deserve compensation for their pain and suffering. If you or someone you love was injured or tragically killed in an 18-wheeler crash or other trucking-related accident, call our law firm toll-free at 1-877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.

5 Trucker Safety Behaviors Increase Future Crash Risk More than 100%

The American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) Crash Predictor study, originally published in 2005 and updated in 2011 and 2018, designed and tested a predictive model that identified statistically significant relationships between truck driver safety behaviors and future crash probability.

The latest report used the same statistical methods, and was based on more than 580,000 individual truck driver records. A total of 25 separate past driving behaviors were identified as possible predictors of a truck driver’s future crash risk, including five that were consistently strong indicators of risks across three of the ATRI’s four crash predictor studies:

  • Failure to Yield Right-of-Way violation: 14 percent future crash likelihood increase
  • Failure to Use / Improper Signal conviction:116 percent future crash likelihood increase
  • A prior crash: 113 percent future crash likelihood increase
  • Reckless Driving violation: 104 percent future crash likelihood increase
  • Improper/Erratic Lane Change: 78 percent future crash likelihood increase

Nine other violation categories had a statistically significant relationship with future crashes, with increased crash likelihoods between 31 and 53 percent. Twelve other conviction categories had a statistically significant relationship with future crashes, with the majority increasing the likelihood of a future crash by more than 50 percent.

Truckers with any out-of-service violation were 29 percent more likely than their peers to be involved in a future crash, and those with a moving violation were 43 percent more likely to be involved in a future crash. Any conviction increased future crash risk by 46 percent.

Younger Drivers, Gender Differences, and Impact of ELD Mandate

Surprisingly, the study also found drivers younger than 21 years old had statistically fewer crashes than those 24 years and older.

Earlier this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approved a pilot apprenticeship program that will allow drivers as young as 18 to operate large commercial trucks across state lines. While the ATRI’s findings on younger drivers are somewhat reassuring, the small sample size noted in the report also means they’re far from conclusive.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, teen drivers aged 16-to-19 are already three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than those 20 and older. A significant body of research has also found that younger commercial drivers have higher crash rates than their older counterparts.

The ATRI researchers also investigated crash risks between male and female truck drivers.

“Based on investigations conducted in the 2022 Crash Predictor update, males continue to be more likely than females to have violations, convictions and crash involvement for all statistically significant event,” the study authors wrote. “Males are 14 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than females – a 30.0 percent decrease from the 2018 report.

Finally, the ATRI also looked at the rate of trucking-related crashes and violations prior to the establishment of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate. They found that between 2018 (the first full year that the ELD Mandate was in effect) and 2022, the number of truckers who experienced a crash decreased by 7.0 percent, while the total number of Hour of Service-related violations decreased by 16.8 percent.

Fatal Truck Accidents Rose 13% in 2021

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal crashes involving at least one large truck (defined as any truck with a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 lbs.) rose 13 percent in 2021. A total of 5,601 trucking-related fatalities were recorded on the nation’s roads and highways last year, compared to 4,965 fatalities in 2020.

While a crash involving two passenger vehicles may only result in a fender bender, a similar crash involving an 18-wheeler or other large truck is likely to have more serious consequences. For one thing, big rigs are often 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles, and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. That factor alone increases the risk that a truck accident will result in of more severe damage, injuries, and fatalities.

Their large size and weight also increase driving challenges, including acceleration, braking, and maneuverability, so motorists should keep in mind that:

  • A heavy truck will accelerate slower uphill and may gain speed quickly downhill.
  • Taller trucks with a higher center of gravity must travel much slower on curves and ramps to avoid the risk of rollovers.
  • Big rigs can generate wind gusts that can be felt by vehicles around them; drivers of smaller vehicles should anticipate this and maintain control in their lane.

Stay Safe Around 18-Wheelers and Other Big Rigs

With truck accident rates and fatalities on the rise, it’s important that motorists take all necessary precautions to reduce their odds of becoming involved in trucking-related crash. While it’s not possible to eliminate this risk entirely, the FMCSA recommends that motorists take the following actions whenever they are sharing the road with large trucks and 18-wheelers:

  • Avoid lingering in blind spots; if you can’t see a truck or bus driver’s face in their mirror, they can’t see you.
  • To give them the stopping space they need, leave extra space when merging in front of big rigs and other large commercial vehicles.
  • Large trucks also need extra space and time to make wide turns carefully. Wait for them to finish turning before continuing. Pay close attention if they’re turning right, as they may initially move left to create enough turning space.
  • In the event of a crash behind a truck, passenger vehicles could slide (or be pushed) under a truck. Stay a safe distance back when stopped behind a large truck, particularly going up an incline, where they might roll backward.
  • Take these precautions when merging in front of or passing a large truck:
  1. Make sure the truck is visible in your rearview mirror before you merge in front; leave extra space.
  2. Avoid passing trucks going down hills, mountains, etc., where they tend to pick up speed due to their heavy weight.
  3. Avoid passing from the right lane.
  4. When a truck is passing you or merging into traffic from an on-ramp, give them extra space to change lanes safely.

And of course, be sure to wear your seatbelt, stay focused on the road at all times, and never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

Our 18-wheeler Accident Lawyers have extensive experience representing truck accident victims and their families.  Because trucking-related crashes frequently cause more severe injuries and usually involve multiple liable parties, insurance is less likely to cover all of your damages. Our law firm has the resources and expertise to effectively represent your interests against the trucking company should you wish to file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. To learn more, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-877-875- 2927.