industry has tried to state the case for years to a motoring public
in denial. But a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic
Safety says nationally, car drivers are more likely to cause car-truck
fatalities than truckdrivers.
The AAA Foundation
study says educating motorists about the risks of driving near
trucks or training motorists how to drive near trucks likely would
help promote safer driving practices.
have a lot of inexperienced drivers in cars across the board,"
said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation
for Traffic Study. "There is definitely more information
that would be helpful to educate people on the differences between
cars and trucks."
points out that car drivers account for nearly 98 percent of driver
fatalities in car-truck crashes primarily because of the differences
in the size of the vehicles.
percent of car drivers had at least one unsafe driving act recorded
compared to 27 percent of truckdrivers, AAA says. Each driver
could have up to four unsafe driving acts recorded and if you
look at all of these unsafe actions, 75 percent were linked to
car drivers and 25 percent were linked to truckdrivers. It notes
the five most common driving behaviors that contribute to about
65 percent of crashes.
* Failing 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; and
* Driver inattention.
the study supports previous studies of car-truck crashes, which
also show unsafe actions by car drivers are more likely to be
recorded than unsafe actions by truckdrivers - a finding first
publicized by the Automobile Club of Michigan in its 1999 Sharing
the Road series in Michigan Living magazine.
don't recognize that trucks behave very differently from cars,
so they think trucks can stop on a dime and change lanes quickly,"
says Richard J. Miller, manager of Community Safety Services for
Michigan's Auto Club. "In reality, trucks take a long time
to stop and cannot whip from lane to lane. As a result, a mistake
near a truck can have catastrophic consequences for a motorist."
tragedies are preventable," Miller says. "When car drivers
understand how trucks are different, they can make allowances
for the big rigs' limitations. By adjusting their driving style,
motorists can safely and confidently share the road with large
of California data by Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior researcher for
the Automobile Club of Southern California, suggests the same
holds true for the state. Cars and trucks collided in 349 fatal
crashes in California last year, according to the Auto Club, often
because car drivers don't change their behavior when driving around
trucks to adjust for the difference.
"The 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. However
injury crashes involving cars and trucks went up 4 percent during
the same time period. Both car and truckdrivers need to be careful
and take precautions when driving near each other to save lives
and reduce injuries."
fatal crash is one too many," says Bloch. "Car drivers
need to realize that greater precautions must be taken when driving
near trucks. Truckdrivers 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."
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 www.aaa-foundation.org.
-- Keith Goble, staff writer