Excessive Speed Contributes to U.S. Truck Fatality Spike

Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced data on 2011 truck-occupant deaths and their corresponding causes at the Transportation Research Board's annual conference. There was a 20 percent spike in truck-occupant deaths over 2010, a statistic that had officials seeking an answer to the unexpected jump. In evaluating crash data, FMCSA researchers discovered two main causes: lack of seatbelt use and speeding.

Speeding played a role in 22 percent of all truck-occupant deaths in 2011, beat only by the 33 percent of victims who were not wearing a seat belt. The next largest factor, some form of impairment - most often fatigue-related, reported by the FMCSA played a role in only four percent of truck-occupant fatalities. One of the hardest to accept facts regarding these statistics is how easy it is to address these issues. Speeding and lack of seat belt use is not a variable outside of our control, but are not without their challenges in addressing.

It is relatively easy to engineer solutions to address mechanical issues and safety concerns, human behavior is a different story. There is no quick fix or simple solution when addressing driver behavior. Speeding cannot be solved by adding an extra steel support or more airbags. Mechanical devices, including speed limiters, have been developed to help address speeding but fall short of providing a comprehensive solution. Mechanical and electronic speed limiters set a top speed, one top speed. While this can address the issue of speeding on expressways, it leaves a gaping hole where most accidents occur, non-interstate roads. Research conducted by North Carolina State University and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found 72 percent of fatal crashes in North Carolina, and 59 percent of fatal crashes in Virginia, occurred on non-interstate roads while the FMCSA discovered 64 percent of fatal crashes involving a large truck occurred on rural roads.

Solutions to address speeding need to involve a more holistic approach to the issue. SpeedGauge was developed with this holistic approach in mind. Unlike speed limiters, SpeedGauge does not physically limit a truck from exceeding a specified speed, but alerts fleet managers to cases where drivers are speeding, whether on an interstate or Main Street. When utilizing this information for driver training purposes, fleets can better address speeding issues with a balanced approach. Most important, it works. Fleets utilizing SpeedGauge have seen up to a 66 percent reduction in speeding events.

Researchers will continue to analyze the 2011 data to drill down into the small details, but fleets can take steps today to protect their drivers and others on the road. Looking for a simple solution to improve safety in your fleet? Contact Robert Reid at bob@speedgauge.net for more details on SpeedGauge and how it can help your business.

This entry was posted on January 28th, 2013 by jhubbard and is filed under Recent News & Updates.