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Research data identifies unsafe trucker attributes

At our law firm, we represent people injured — or whose loved ones have died — in motor vehicle accidents involving large commercial trucks. Obviously, the size and weight of a semi-truck pose grave danger to smaller vehicles on the road in any kind of impact crash.

One predictable potential cause of a truck accident is giving responsibility to an unsafe or unfit truck driver for moving tons of freight and equipment down the road at high speeds in all kinds of conditions. It falls on the responsibility of trucking companies to engage in thorough investigation of potential trucking employees so that they do not put unqualified or risky people behind the wheels of tractor trailers.

Helpful use of driver data 

We already know many of the reasons trucking employers should not hire certain kinds of people as drivers, but the American Transportation Research Institute, a thinktank of industry organization American Trucking Association, provides trucking companies with its Crash Predictor Model to help identify problematic drivers in hiring and to enrich training. 

ATRI developed the model from statistics from 435,000 American truck drivers over two years “to expose nearly a dozen behaviors that raise a driver’s risk of being involved in a future truck crash by more than 50 percent.” 

One client said the model helps trucking companies to understand what factors in a driver’s history “relate to future crash probability,” according to a July 31 ATRI press release announcing that it is releasing an update to the model incorporating new data. 

Important new findings: 

  • Two historical behaviors increase the risk of a future accident by 100 percent: violations for either a failure to yield the right of way or for reckless driving.
  • Having been in a previous accident increases the chance of a future crash by 74 percent.
  • Female truck drivers are safer than males in “every statistically significant safety behavior” and men have a 20 percent higher risk than women truck driver to be in collisions. (Of course, hiring decisions based on gender are discriminatory.)
  • Citations for these offenses are “statistically significant predictors” of future accidents: improper lane or location, erratic lane changing and reckless (or careless, inattentive or negligent) driving. 

In an appropriate case, a trucking company can be liable for injuries in a crash if it negligently hired the driver without adequate screening.

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