Crashes and interventions: Wreck frequency varies widely by state
Previously in the CSA’s Data Trail “Crashes and interventions” installment: “CSA’s crash flaw”
The ranking is based on analysis of federally recordable truck-involved crash data over three years, 2010-12, by Overdrive and sister company RigDig Business Intelligence (RigDig.com/bi). The Garden State had 12 truck-involved wrecks occurring for every 10 lane-miles of National Highway System roadway during that period.
As with the other BASICs (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Safety Measurement System (SMS), the Crash Indicator BASIC attempts to accommodate exposure differences by comparing carriers with similar numbers of total crashes for purposes of associated carrier percentile rankings.
Given the wide variance in crash occurrence intensity by region, small carriers operating primarily in congested regions are likely to be compared to larger entities operating in less-dense areas. Though FMCSA normalizes crash data by exposure – using carrier-provided figures for annual vehicle miles traveled and total power units – neither of the measures are relative to operating region.
It’s no surprise that the remaining top 10 states for truck wrecks also are east of the Mississippi River, where traffic is heaviest.
At the other end of the spectrum, South Dakota had the lowest rate – one wreck per 10 lane-miles. The median rate for all states is four crashes per 10 lane-miles.
New Jersey’s position between three of the country’s largest major metropolitan areas – New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. – helps produce intense traffic. “The bottom line is there’s a whole lot of vehicles on the road,” says Lt. Stephen Jones of the New Jersey State Police. “You’ll find a lot more accidents per mile and some with minor injuries.”
Many lower speed crashes “are happening during the major rush hours,” Jones says. Lots of low-speed crashes would help explain why New Jersey also tops the injuries list but ranks outside the top 10 (No. 14) for truck-involved crash fatalities; Indiana topped that list.
Crash rates don’t correlate much with inspection rates. Among the top 10 states for crash occurrence intensity, only three – Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland – also rank among the top 10 for inspection intensity. New Jersey ranks in the bottom half of states for inspection intensity, at No. 31.
The wide range in the shares of tow-away-only crashes – those not involving a fatality or injury – among the top 10 states in that category shows the range of severity in crashes in some jurisdictions. It also suggests that crash reporting is far from uniform at the local level in certain states.
Find more reporting on crash-reporting issues at the local level in “The fault handicap” of the “Crashes and interventions” installment in CSA’s Data Trail.