Economy’s relationship to crash figures and FMCSA’s debated effectiveness in reducing them

| February 11, 2014
truck crash

A dip in crashes occurred in 2009 as the economy sank, but, as debated at the MCSAC meetings this week, did FMCSA measures to prevent crashes also play a role?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Analysis Division Chief Bill Bannister presented the agency’s effectiveness measures and other data relative to crashes involving large trucks at this week’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee meeting. By and large, Bannister noted, while the continuing improvement in the economy is driving up the overall large-truck vehicle miles traveled nationwide and truck-involved fatalities continue to grow slightly, such numbers follow a huge dip in 2009 as a result of the dramatic recession.


Truck accidents with deaths up in 2011, but drop 25% since 2001

Data released this month by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that trucks were involved in 3,608 accidents that involved fatalities in 2011.

We’ve reported on NHTSA’s 2012 numbers here. For FMCSA’s 2013 enforcement activity, Bannister reported a total of around 3.5 million roadside inspections in which 21 percent of trucks inspected, and 5 percent of drivers, were placed out of service. Those roadside inspection, using FMCSA’s peer-reviewed effectiveness-testing measures, “prevented 16,000 crashes per year, we estimate,” Bannister said, “saving approximately 500 lives per year.”

“In addition,” he added, “we’ve conducted a little more than 18,000 safety reviews of motor carriers.” Approximately 6,000 Notices of Claim (fines) were issued as a result of those reviews, and “770 of those motor carriers were found Unsatisfactory or Unfit,” with 37 imminent-hazard out-of-service orders given as well. As a result of the reviews, “another 1,500 crashes per year were prevented and another 90 lives saved per year as a result.”


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All well and good, said Schneider National Senior Vice President and MCSAC member Don Osterberg, adding that the yearly rise since 2009 in truck-involved fatalities has to be “an inconvenient truth for the agency, particularly in light of CSA” and other regulatory activity through that time period.

Measured from 2005, however, Bannister noted, crashes were down, and he added that considerable study had been done on “the relationship between the economy and crashes” in statistics, he said. And while crashes have increased, they are “not to a level to where they were prior to 2009. The rate of increase has tapered off. We expect that that will level off and continue to go down. But with the economic upturn we’re seeing more exposure, more opportunities” for crashes.

A bright spot for the industry and the agency may be the area of New Entrant audits, whose pass rates have been growing in around 10 percent increments between fiscal-years 2011 and 2013 to the point where more than 80 percent of New Entrants passed this past year, FMCSA’s Larry Minor reported.

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  • Barney

    How do they know how many accidents or lives were saved?
    What they don’t tell you is that the fmcsa is playing a statistics game with numbers. While accidents may have increased as total number, what about total miles traveled in relation to that.

  • DAGR

    500 lives were saved. In Texas 2013, 3500 people lost there lives. Majority was drunk drivers in the other four wheeler.

  • haller

    United we stand,,,divided we fall,,, Anybody can and will do anything they want to the trucking industry.. We are not united, like congress, like the state patrol, like doctors, like the dot, like the teamsters,, bring back Jimmy Hoffa.. As we know,, the government and big business killed him.. NEVER,,NEVER allow labor to be organized…

  • Douglas Morton

    Hasn’t anyone figured out that any branch of our corrupt government only knows two things. To lie to the public and to try to make their branch bigger so it hurts the working public.

  • MarsRiver

    The numbers are rising as a direct result of their rule making. Good drivers are leaving and being replaced with inexperienced ones. We, in the industry, know why the good ones are departing. One must use “ALL” the numbers, not just the numbers that fit the agenda. Hmmm! Thanks DAGR! Home Run for you!

  • Jkc

    They need to include miles traveled then you will get real picture this is just another way to squeeze more money from us

  • trucktracy

    CSA is N O T about safety. If it was about safety we would have mandated disc brakes on all new trucks. We would have mandated new driver regs requiring a set number of hours behind the wheel with an experienced qualified trainer. We would mandate that everyone that get a license has a required amount of hours learning about big trucks and the do and donts of being on the same highway. We would not be making issues out of whether or not my license plate light is working on the back of my trailer, or that my headlight is out and it is 1pm on a bright shiny afternoon or that I missed my mandatory half hour break by 15 minutes.
    As far as numbers go. Well you can make numbers tell any story you wish, but that doesn’t make it reality. Sorry for the swear word. Reality has no place in the DOT or the FMCSA

  • Del Ray Johnson

    How about the relationship of driver pay to crashes !?

  • Webb Kline

    Does anyone see the ridiculousness of the safety findings of the FMCSA? What criteria are they using to make the the claim that they saved 500 lives?

    First of all, we lost half of the national fleet from 2006 to 2009. While it has begun to build back up, we’re still not near what it was in 06. So, how can you even have a basis for a study without taking into consideration that inconvenient truth?

    Secondly, what criteria do they use to determine whether or not the defects found during inspections would have caused crashes? They have none. Who, aside from God, could know this? We had one driver who didn’t have a BOL number on his log and it was counted against us as a “Fatigued Driving” charge. Really a deadly one there, I gotta tell ya…

    Thirdly, if you go to and do the math, the actual deaths caused by fatigued, noncompliant truck drivers is so low per 100 million miles of vehicle travel that it takes some very fine math to even measure it. If I remember correctly, you would have to travel around the entire world 185000 times to find one noncompliant, fatigue related death.

    Fourthly, another economic consideration is that things got so bad during the recession, that many carriers cut maintenance because they were going broke, so it stands to reason that there would be more failures in that period.

    Fifthly, we’ve never at any time in our history had so many drivers who can’t speak or read English, can’t communicate or read road signs. How much does this contribute to driver error? A considerable amount, I’m sure.

    And lastly, and certainly not one they want you to know about–with EOBR’s on the rise, how much do they contribute to the accident rate, as a result of drivers being forced to drive against their circadian rhythms? Interestingly, this data used to be available on the FMCSA website, but it’s not there any more.

    It gets harder and harder every day to restrain from cynicism. We’re in information overload, and the people gathering the data often have no experience in the industry whatsoever.

  • Webb Kline

    Another good point. I wouldn’t be so cynical if the FMCSA actually paid attention to such details in their studies, but these things are always remiss in their studies.

  • bigred

    LOL, I had to roflmfao over this article. Just the other week Atlanta Ga. was a frigging nightmare because none of those trucks that were shutting down the 285-85-20-75 would stop because they are on a time clock now. How big of a PIPE are these guys smoking???? Atlanta was just the first one.

  • Truckertwotimes

    I’d volunteer for FREE to do an audit and inspection on the FMCSA and ALL their piers, just furnish my transportation, you know how to get in touch with me.

  • Truckertwotimes


  • Truckertwotimes

    and 3,499 worked in a “Specialty Type Job”


    well honestly we the trucking people of this great nation can really control what we want, we just got to use our heads and become a team, with more than 1,999,000 trucks with drivers, and owner operators we need to stand up for our rights, the rates are low, we have to work like slaves to make ends meet, if we all shut down for 2 weeks, no food for anyone, not even the so called people who claim to represent us until things change in DC and the rest of the country. if the banks want to take our trucks let them if everyone told the finance companies to pick the trucks and trailers up, where would they store them, who in the right mind would buy them. the banks, and loan companies would be screwed like us no food can’t work no way to get to work. WE ARE THE LARGEST IN THE COUNTRY, AND WE ALL ARE SCARED TO TAKE 2 WEEKS OFF, AT THE SAME TIME?????? NO PETROLEUM WOULD MOVE, NO FOOD WOULD MOVE, we could create the biggest mess in the united states, we would go down in the history books, how the government squeezed us till we all park the equipment. my family has been in the trucking industry for 4 generations, and the BULLSHIT has gotten really bad in the last 10 years. the government does not know what kind of shit they are stirring. in all honesty a massive shutdown would be the beginning of a revolution. “THEY CAN’T LOCK US UP FOR NOT WANTING TO WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • William McKelvie

    What a load of CRAP!! The ONLY way to reduce crashes is for the FMCSA to actually start cracking down on the companies that just put anyone in a seat! And stop fluffing the CSA numbers for the big carriers. But GOOD LUCK on either of those happening. So, I doubt they would even consider revamping the HOS to make it safer for all of us out here. Yeah add more rules, more regulations, but they cannot even enforce the one’s on the books now, and the roads are certainly not safer.

  • Bruce at 1600 Watch


  • Bruce at 1600 Watch

    FMCSA and most other regulaory agencies are all about aiding and abetting monopoly; in our case the big carriers who have the economy of scale to carry the insane and increasingly unsafe regulatory burden now driving honest, independent Americans out of their trucking businesses…and we tax payers are paying for this nonsense.

  • Truckertwotimes

    If these FMCSA nut jobs ran the cOuntry like they think they they know trucking, maybe all the scams that ran the economy down wouldn’t have happened? strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.