Of course, the data only shows the numbers, not the reasons why. Much as I'd like to delve into this aspect, there's really a need for more methodical research in this area. That said, let's take a look at some of the crash types that driver assistance systems (DAS), such as stability and collision mitigation, can help fleets address – specifically, rollovers, rear-end collisions with passenger vehicles, and other types of collisions between cars and trucks:
- Rollovers and loss of control (jackknife) crashes:
- Let's begin with the numbers. In 2014, 14,260 large trucks were involved in rollover and/or jackknife crashes, an increase of 8% over the 2013 figures. In 2015, the numbers dropped about 5% to 13,498 rollovers and/or jackknifes. So our figure of 1.6 large trucks rolling over and/or jackknifing every hour in 2014 dropped a little in 2015 to about 1.5 – still a significant data point. The continuing number of rollovers and loss-of-control/jackknife crashes reinforce why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated full-stability (ESC) technology to help drivers mitigate and reduce these instances. The mandate, which took effect beginning Aug. 1 of this year for Class 7 & 8 6x4 vehicles, may still be eliminated by the current administration under their "two for one" cleanup initiative. We contend that while there may be regulations that likely could be eliminated, this isn't one of them. Why? The problem still exists and, while the mandate won't eliminate all rollover and jackknife crashes immediately, it's a strong step in helping reduce their incidence.
- Not surprisingly, the most harmful event – when comparing rollover vs. jackknife crashes – is the rollover crash. A total of 9,272 trucks were involved in rollover crashes (where the rollover was the most harmful event for the large truck) vs. 4,226 large trucks in jackknife crashes. It's a foregone conclusion that rollovers are devastating and resulted in most of the fatalities in this category.
- Rear-end collisions:
- This one is of particular interest due to the focus on a specific incident type within the "Crash Facts." There is a category of "Large Truck Rear-Ending Passenger Vehicles. (In addition, there's also a category of "Passenger Vehicles Rear-Ending Large Trucks.) For the large-truck category, there was a 60% increase in the number of these collisions vs. the 2013 information. In 2014, 37,088 large trucks rear-ended a passenger vehicle. That's 4.2 trucks/hour of every day in a year involved in a rear-end collision somewhere in the U.S. This is cause for concern – due to both the increase and the number. For 2015, the trend unfortunately continued. The numbers actually increased – a little over 40,000 large trucks rear-ended a passenger vehicle, an increase of about 8%. Another way to view the data is that, in 2015, a large truck rear-ended a passenger vehicle every 15 minutes.
- Going one step futher, the data shows that 93,751 large trucks had a collision with a passenger vehicle other than a rear-end collision. This could be a sideswipe, T-bone, or other crash involving the large truck and a passenger vehicle. Again, the unfortunate trend line continues, this time reflecting a 13% increase in this type of crash over the 2014 numbers.
- Combine the two and you have 133,837 trucks involved in collisions of some kind with a passenger vehicle, an increase of about 12% YOY.
- Passenger cars, however, are not innocent bystanders. In 2015, 34,335 passenger cars rear-ended a large truck – a 17% increase over 2014, while 75,687 passenger cars struck the large truck at another point, a 4% increase. Adding it all up, 110,022 passenger cars hit a large truck in 2015, a statistic that is headed in the wrong direction as well.
What's the "so what" of all the facts and figures? First, we still have a critical challenge with crashes involving large trucks in this country. Too many accidents are still happening. Accidents that can probably be reduced significantly through a variety of measures – from driver training to technology application. If you have a fleet that has experienced some of these crashes, you know how devastating they can be – especially when fatalities or injuries are involved. In addition, there's a financial cost – including productivity reductions due to loss of equipment and driver availability, plus profit impacts to cover costs (such as repairs, medical expenses, and liability costs). These are costs that come right from the bottom line.
The solution? As we discussed in our white paper "The Fleet Safety Equation, Part 1," it's not a single approach that helps resolve the issues with crashes. Dealing with crashes requires a multilevel effort – ranging from technology adoption and implementation, along with driver training and selection, through maintenance and monitoring – just to name a few. The fleet that embraces a multifaceted approach is likely to see significant reductions in the number of crashes involving their trucks and drivers. Reducing crashes, while reducing fatalities and injuries, also reduces costs.
Safety does deliver an ROI, but like your investment portfolio, it takes diversity to optimize.
And it starts with the numbers.
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