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October 11, 2022 11:22 AM, EDT

ATRI Study Outlines Link Between Traffic Violations, Unsafe Driving

Trucks on highwayRichLegg/Getty Images

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Previous behavior continues to be an important predictor of whether a truck driver is likely to be involved in a crash, with certain violations holding more significance than others, according to a report released Oct. 11 by the American Transportation Research Institute.

The 2022 update to the group’s Predicting Truck Crash Involvement Research study also found that female drivers generally exhibit better safety performance than men, and included a list of states with the best safety records.



The report, which was based on data from more than 580,000 individual driver records, found that commercial truck drivers who have committed any of the following — a failure to yield right-of-way violation, a failure to use or improper signal violation or have a reckless driving violation — are more than 100% more likely to have an accident than drivers who have not committed the same violation.

Reviewing these behaviors individually, ATRI found that a failure to yield right-of-way violation increased the likelihood of a crash by 141%, up nearly 40% from the last report, conducted in 2018. A failure to use or improper signal conviction increased crash likelihood by 116%, a 41.5% increase from 2018 to 2022. A reckless driving violation increased crash likelihood by 104%, but that was an 8.8% decrease from 2018 to 2022.

More broadly, the report found that drivers who have had a previous accident are 113% more likely to have another, a figure that is 28.4% higher than the previous report.

“Having a science-based model for predicting crashes is one of the most important tools the trucking industry can have,” said Dan Horvath, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations. ATRI is part of ATA.

He added, “ATRI’s Crash Predictor research allows carriers to target and monitor those truck driver behaviors that matter most. With truck crashes increasing, there is no better time to have this data in our hands.”

Top 10 Safest States

1. Washington
2. Indiana
3. New Mexico
4. Arizona
5. Massachusetts
6. Georgia
7. Pennsylvania
8. Illinois
9. California
10. Michigan 

The ATRI crash predictor report was first published in 2005, and was updated in 2011 and 2018. It is a predictive model that identifies statistically significant relationships between truck driver safety behaviors and future crash probability.

The analysis identified more than 25 different violations and convictions that increased the likelihood of future crashes. Other violations found to increase the likelihood of a driver being involved in a future crash were out-of-service violations, which increased the likelihood by 29%, and a previous moving violation, which increased the likelihood by 43% compared with other drivers. Overall the report found that any traffic-related conviction increased future crash likelihood by 46%.

While still a minority among truck-driving ranks, women were found to have fewer violations, convictions and crash involvement for all statistically significant events than men. In 2019, the year the inspection data was collected, women represented 6.7% of the trucking industry’s driving workforce. However, female drivers represented only 2.7% of overall vehicle inspections. In 2019, male drivers were more than 93% of the driving population and represented 97.3% of inspection.

“While ATRI research corroborates that female truck drivers are safer, there is no clear basis for female truck drivers being inspected less frequently than male truck drivers,” the report said. The report did note, however, that women generally drive for safer overall trucking companies, drive better-equipped trucks, and often do not drive in the most hazardous weather conditions.

States With Truck Crash Decreases

  • Alaska

  • North Dakota

  • Vermont

  • Wyoming

The report also ranked the safest states in which to operate based on statistical analysis of the relationship between traffic enforcement and the possibility of a crash.

Washington state was the top-ranked state, followed by Indiana, New Mexico, Arizona and Massachusetts. Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California and Michigan rounded out the top 10.

ATRI also stressed that traffic enforcement inspections tend to be more effective than roadside inspections in improving highway safety. “Traffic enforcement inspections tend to be about 3.1 times more effective from a safety standpoint than roadside vehicle inspections,” the group said. It also noted that just four states — Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming — saw a decrease in truck-involved crashes between 2018 and 2022.

“To combat the rise in crashes, it would be advantageous for states to increase traffic enforcement inspections,” ATRI said. “For the most part, this is corroborated in the data, as only 10 states saw a decrease in traffic enforcement inspections.”

For example, Connecticut saw an 11.3% decrease in traffic enforcement inspections during that period, and saw accidents increase by 135%. Maryland reduced inspections by less than 1% yet still saw accidents increase by 69%.

The report stressed that good relations between law enforcement and state trucking associations can help make roads safer and ultimately lead to fewer accidents.

The full ATRI report can be found at truckingresearch.org.

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