Predicting truck crash involvement

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released an update to its 2005 “‘crash predictor”‘ study. The focus of this work was to identify those driver behaviors that most likely to lead to future crash involvement. ATRI is a not-for-profit research organization whose primary mission is to conduct research in the field of transportation, with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system. Given what has transpired in the industry since the original study which might have had an impact on the predictive value of the specific driver behaviors, ATRI undertook this latest analysis. The new research looked in how driver behavior-crash relationships have fared as a result of recent changes to the regulatory environment, industry safety practices and the dissemination of proven enforcement and carrier countermeasures identified in the 2005 report. The latest analysis determined a range of statistically significant driving behaviors - including violations, convictions and past crashes - with associated future crash likelihood increases ranging from 26 to 96 percent. As in the original report, individual driver behaviors were again statistically analyzed independently to allow for improved targeting by behavior. ATRI’s research examined to what extent drivers with certain driving records in one year (2008) were more likely to be involved in a truck crash in the following 12 months 2009), compared to drivers who did not have the same violations, convictions or prior crash history. The study also sought to determine how the updated 2011 findings relate to those from the original crash predictor study. Driver data were gathered from a two-year time frame (2008 to 2009) and analyzed across those years to determine the future crash predictability of violations, convictions and crashes which occurred the previous year. ATRI’s study included data from more than 580,000 truck drivers. The analysis shows that a “‘failure to use/improper signal”‘ conviction was the leading conviction associated with an increased likelihood of a future crash. When a truck driver was convicted of this offense, the driver’s likelihood of a future crash increased 96 percent. Ten additional convictions were also significant crash predictors. Of these, eight had an associated crash likelihood increase between 56 and 84 percent, while two registered between 36 to 40 percent. In relation to driver violations, an improper passing violation had the strongest association with crash involvement. Drivers with this violation were 88 percent more likely than their peers to be involved ill a crash. Seven additional violations had significant crash associations, with five ranging in magnitude between 38 and 45 percent and two between 18 and 21 percent. ATRI’s latest research acknowledges that driver behaviors, while still associated with crash involvement, appear to be less strongly related than in the original report, when three predictors were found to more than double crash risk. Moreover, while many of the 2005 behaviors demonstrated similar patterns in the analysis update, a number of the most predictive behaviors from 2005 were replaced by new behaviors. There are several theories proposed for these changes, with an emphasis on the finding that roadside inspected drivers generally had much safer records in the 2011 study, as evidenced by the lower proportion of drivers being issued violations. View the charts in PDF format