trucks collided in 349 fatal crashes in California last year,
according to the Automobile Club of Southern California, often
because car drivers didn't realize that they need to behave differently
around trucks than other cars.
A new study,
released recently by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says
nationally car drivers are more likely to cause car-truck fatalities
than truck drivers. An examination of California data by Steven
Bloch, Ph.D., senior researcher for the Auto Club, suggests the
same holds true for the state.
law enforcement officers are unable to determine fault in all
cases, truck drivers were at fault in at least 31% of all truck-related
fatal crashes in 2001. However, car drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists,
motorcyclists and other causes were at fault in 69% of the crashes.
Club analysis, based on California Highway Patrol data, also shows,
however, that drivers of cars and trucks are almost equally to
blame in injury and property damage crashes. Statistics show that
truck drivers are at fault in at least 46% of personal injury
crashes and at least 52% of property damage accidents in truck-car
related accidents. The AAA Foundation study did not look at injury
and property damage crashes.
fatal crash is one too many," said Bloch. "Car drivers
need to realize that greater precautions must be taken when driving
drivers need to be aware of speed, abrupt lane changes and to
check blind spots for smaller vehicles. If both truck and car
drivers drive safely and responsibly, the chances of crashes diminish."
The AAA Foundation
study points out that car drivers account for nearly 98% of driver
fatalities in car-truck crashes primarily because of the differences
in the size of the vehicles. It notes that five driving behaviors
contribute to the majority of the fatal crashes.
to stay in the lane or running off the road
-- Failing to yield the right of way
-- Driving too fast for conditions or above the speed limit
-- Failing to obey signs and signals
-- Driver inattention
The Auto Club and AAA are recommending that drivers change
the way they drive around big trucks by:
-- Not changing lanes abruptly
-- Slowing down to let trucks have the right of way
-- Driving at a safe speed
-- Staying alert to traffic signals and road conditions
-- Using turn signals -- Never cutting in front of a truck
-- Avoiding driving alongside trucks whenever possible
because if you can't see the truck driver's face in the side mirror, he
or she can't see you
-- Avoiding tailgating
good news is that despite increasing numbers of cars and trucks
on California roads and highways, the number of fatal car-truck
crashes declined 6 percent from 1995 through 2001," said
Bloch. "However injury crashes involving cars and trucks
went up 4 percent during the same time period. Both car and truck
drivers need to be careful and take precautions when driving near
each other to save lives and reduce injuries."
Highway Patrol currently operates an "Operation Road Share"
program where officers focus on the driving behaviors of both
car and commercial vehicle drivers in an effort to increase safe
Club of Southern California says it will be sharing the AAA Foundation
study with various law enforcement organizations and will publish
information for members about driving safely near trucks in its
The AAA Foundation
for Traffic Safety Study can be found at http://www.aaa-foundation.org.