While the map is useful, the office GAO said the methodology problems could result in false conclusions about the extent of improvements states have made.
The FMCSA’s other program to help states improve truck crash reporting also appears beneficial, the GAO said. Through the data improvement program for states, FMCSA has provided nearly $21 million in discretionary grants to states 2002-05 and helped states better their data.
The GAO did not find problems with FMCSA’s oversight of the program, but said the agency needs formal guidelines for awarding grants to states.
According to FMCSA, as of fiscal year 2004 nearly one-third of truck crashes that states are required to report to federal officials went unreported. Those that were reported were not always accurate, timely, or consistent.
Tapering Lanes Lead to Many Work-Zone Accidents
Truck-car accidents often occur where lanes taper for work zones, according to a study released Nov. 16.
The American Transportation Research Institute study, titled Safety by Design: Optimizing Safety in Highway Work Zones, noted that many states are looking to shorten that region to increase traffic flow and lane capacity. This may cause four-wheel drivers to cut in front of trucks more often, forcing the big rigs to brake quickly and unsafely. The institute is the research arm of the American Trucking Associations.
The report recommended standardized accident reports and greater adherence to the work zone design guidelines of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
“Given the emphasis that the Federal Highway Administration and state DOTs are placing on improving work zone safety, the issues raised in this report should be taken into account by all work zone planners,” said Dean Carlson, former Kansas DOT secretary and former president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
“The study provides the basis for a partnership of the trucking industry and government to provide safer work zones for all motorists,” said Doug Duncan, institute chairman and president and CEO of FedEx Freight.
ATA: Visual Rear-Detection Equipment Not the Only Solution
Fleets should not be limited to visual-only rear-detection devices, the American Trucking Associations said in response to a federal proposal to require rear-detection systems on straight trucks.
The group’s comment, filed Nov. 14, responded to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposal that straight trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds have a detection system to alert drivers of anything directly behind the vehicle.
Vehicle manufacturers could satisfy the proposal by installing mirrors or video cameras that would make the space behind the truck visible to the driver.