Safety matters and the numbers indicate there’s still much to do.
In July, I posted an IdeaXchange blog talking about safety technology in trucks, including lane departure warning and collision avoidance/mitigation systems. The main barrier that keeps fleets from installing these systems is often cost; however, the cost of not doing everything you can to ensure your vehicles are as safe as possible and your drivers keep their focus on safety can be significant. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “the average cost of a truck crash including all types of trucks was nearly $150,000.”
Anyone with questions regarding the need for greater safety can find the answers in FleetOwner’s “Trucking By the Numbers” article on safety. The statistics date from 1975 through 2017. Although there is some positive data, the trajectory from 2016 to 2017 was not good. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a 9 percent increase in fatalities in accidents involving large trucks; an increase in fatalities of 5.8 percent for crashes involving combination trucks (tractor/trailers); while a whopping 18.7 percent increase in fatal crashes involved single-unit straight trucks.
Other statistics are equally troubling:
- Speeding was a factor in nearly 10,000 highway fatalities
- 82% of fatalities in large truck crashes were not truck occupants but rather car drivers, passengers, or pedestrians
- 94% of truck crashes were related to drivers either being distracted, impaired, speeding, or making illegal maneuvers
So what’s the good news?
The number of fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2016 (3,864) was only slightly higher than those in 1975 (3,722). Those number may not seem so impressive; however, the number of large trucks registered in 2016 was 11,498,561 while the number in 1975 was only 5,362,369. So more than double the amount of trucks resulted in essentially the same number of accidents…amounting to a more than 60 percent reduction in crashes per truck registered. The numbers took a big leap through the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s but started to come down again in 2010. The increase from 2016 to 2017 is, of course, troubling and will need to be examined further.
I talked above about the average cost per truck crash; the FleetOwner article posted the total cost of truck and bus crashes. In 2016 alone, the cost for fatal crashes was $47 billion. Add in injury of property-only crashes and that number jumps to $134 billion.
What is clear is that fleet owners and managers need to keep the focus on safety and need to really consider the ROI for new safety technology. The numbers really do matter.