Crashes and interventions: Wreck frequency varies widely by state

| May 08, 2013

The article below is part of an ongoing, in-depth series on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that analyzes federal inspection, investigation and crash data and offers original reporting. Overdrive and CCJ editors have built a site dedicated to hosting the stories, interactive maps and downloadable data at CCJdigital.com/csa.

Previously in the CSA’s Data Trail “Crashes and interventions” installment: “CSA’s crash flaw”

Truck-involved accident rates map

Truck-involved accident rates top tensWhere is a collision with a heavy-duty truck most likely to happen? That dubious distinction goes to New Jersey.

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.

To access rankings for the entire 48 continental U.S. states based on truck-involved fatalities, injuries and tow-away crashes, visit OverdriveOnline.com/CSA, where you can also view interactive maps and download full crash- and inspection-data reports ranked by state.

To access rankings for the entire 48 continental U.S. states based on truck-involved fatalities, injuries and tow-away crashes, visit OverdriveOnline.com/CSA, where you can also view interactive maps and download full crash- and inspection-data reports ranked by state.

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.”

Working with CCJ and RigDig Business Intelligence, a division of Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media, we analyzed crash data over years 2010-12, covering CSA’s first two years. Here we offer insights into crash and enforcement patterns and what you can do to keep your business in the clear. Find further “Inconsistent enforcement” installments via this page in the coming weeks.

Working with CCJ and RigDig Business Intelligence, a division of Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media, we analyzed crash data over years 2010-12, covering CSA’s first two years. Here we offer insights into crash and enforcement patterns and what you can do to keep your business in the clear. Find further “Crashes and interventions” installments covering crash and enforcement rates by carrier size groupings, intervention trends and more via this page.

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.

 

Next up: “Crackdown!”, about shifting priorities in FMCSA’s carrier intervention/review program under CSA.

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  • bigred

    You can expect these to change drastically if we are forced to use EOBR or E-LOGS as when that clock starts ticking at same time evry morning for all these trucks and every truck is forced to drive through large city traffic,fog,storms,ice, etc to make a payday the crashing will really start,,PLease keep us posted with this in the future…

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    Will do, Big red. We’re hoping to keep it an at least yearly update.

  • Dan

    Your installments on the CSA Data Trail have been awesome. Please keep them coming. Thank you

  • Craig Hatmaker

    Regional influences must be factored to properly discern
    between safe and unsafe CMV operators.

    Federal studies show regional factors influence over 34
    percent of crash causation [1] yet this major cause, which is outside the CMV’s control, is missing from the CSA 2010 methodology and skews crash statistic comparisons. Neglected regional elements include:

    [1] Traffic Density – The probability of other vehicles
    crashing into the CMV under review increases in direct proportion to regional traffic density. Thus, chances of other vehicles colliding with a CMV in DC are FAR higher per square mile than in the mid-west.

    [2] Regional Weather Patterns – Rain and snow are well known collision factors. Thus, the chance of other vehicles sliding into a CMV is FAR greater in the northeast than the southern mid-west.

    [3] Highway Design – “road-related elements are associated with 34 percent of crash causation” [1]. In some cases it’s not the CMV’s safety factors being measured as much as the roadway’s safety design elements.

    [4] Regional Enforcement Practices – In some areas, minor accidents that otherwise would not be DOT reportable, must be towed making them DOT reportable. In such cases, it’s not the CMV’s safety factors being measured as much as the region’s enforcement practices.

    The FMCSA methodology ignores fault in its crash
    statistics. I suspect it’s because FMCSA views fault as a statistically level factor. Federal studies and NHTSA’s FARS database clearly shows it’s not. Carriers operating in areas with statistically higher adverse regional influences may indeed be quite safe, but appear unsafe under FMCSA’s methodology.

    The Solution:
    By incorporating regional factors using the FARS and National Atlas measures, FMCSA can statistically negate non-CMV safety issues in its reviews and avoid the potential of removing safe CMV operators due to improper
    statistics application.

    References:
    [1] https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13737137/CSA_2010_Forgotte_Factors.pdf
    [2] http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/95winter/p95wi14.cfm
    [3] http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/mapping/a_general.html
    [4] ftp://ftp.nhtsa.dot.gov/fars/2008/DBF/FARS2008.zip

    The above was sent to CSA in July of 2011

  • http://www.facebook.com/leszek.kolodziej.5 Leszek Kolodziej

    What’s interesting that states with most accidents don’t get very much snow, exception being Pennsylvania. The safest states have very snowy winters. It speaks of driver training and respect for the rig and the road.

  • Todd Dills

    Thank you, Dan. Unfortunately, they’re mostly done at this point. We’ll be tracking a lot of the data, though, and will continue with reporting in the series in future as things change.

  • Todd Dills

    Thanks for sharing, Craig. And you are of course exactly correct on all of these points.

  • garybary

    It would be interesting to know how much revenue that beefed up enforcement (via fines) has generated in each state.

  • No Reform

    Mostly 3rd Worlders in New jersey….is it any wonder? They have no concern for anything…like cab drivers there. Maniacs….they dont even have a REAL ID. Why would they care about anything?