2005 International Truck & Bus Safety & Security Symposium

Commercial vehicle safety is multifaceted and paradoxical, and therein lies the intrigue. Like traffic crashes in general, commercial vehicle crashes can be viewed from the perspective of the driver, vehicle, or environment. This may involve many professional disciplines including public health, education, human factors, physics, engineering (mechanical, electrical, and civil), biomechanics, law enforcement, forensics, and statistics. But commercial motor vehicle transport is even more complex than general transport. It is related to all of the same elements and considerations, but in addition involves industrial operations, organizational management, economic forces and incentives, and a regulatory framework. Any consideration of large truck and bus safety must incorporate multiple perspectives, not just the relatively simple taxonomy of driver, vehicle, and roadway. The paradoxes of truck and bus safety relate to crash causation and risk. Compared to passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles have lower crash rates per mile traveled, their drivers are at-fault in a lower percentage of crashes, and their drivers are generally less likely to violate traffic laws. Although there is some contradictory evidence and debate, it appears that most car-truck crashes are precipitated primarily by the actions of car drivers. Car drivers and other non-truck occupants are also the principal victims of large truck crashes, accounting for 80-90% of large truck crash fatalities. Because of their high mileage exposure, individual tractor-trailers have greater likelihoods of crash involvement than do individual passenger vehicles, and the large size and weight of these vehicles means that their crashes are more likely to be severe. Thus, although commercial vehicles are generally driven more safely than passenger vehicles, there are higher risks associated with their travel. Another irony relates to differential risk among commercial drivers. Although most commercial drivers are generally safe and have low crash and violation rates, it appears that a relatively small percentage accounts for a disproportionate percentage of crash risk. A challenge of both fleet and industry-wide safety management is to identify high-risk commercial drivers and either change their driving behaviors or replace them with safer drivers. Approximately 5,000 people are killed annually in the U.S. in crashes involving large trucks. The comparable worldwide figure is not known, but is likely at least ten times as great. As noted, these crash victims are mostly not occupants of the trucks but rather other highway motorists, passengers, or pedestrians. Although commercial drivers are not the principal victims of large truck crashes, among the various occupations they are among the most frequent victims of work-related accidents. Moreover, commercial drivers often have unhealthful life styles that lead to chronic conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and stress, and ultimately to shorter life expectancies. Thus, enhancing truck and bus safety is important to everyone both in and outside the industry.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

    Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
    3500 Transportation Research Plaza
    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061

    National Safety Council

    1121 Spring Lake Drive
    Itasca, IL  United States  60143
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 2005-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Edition: Final Proceedings
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Tables;
  • Pagination: 705p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01152951
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 22 2010 3:03PM