Big-Rig Drivers Are Safer Than You Think

Big Rig rearview II

Ever worry about the safety record of the guy or gal behind the wheel of a big rig? These are just about the biggest vehicles you'll see sharing the highway with your full-size or midsize pickup truck, but don't jump to conclusions about their safety records.

According to the Commercial Carriers Journal, fatality rates for all vehicles have been dramatically falling for the last 35 years, but in rear-end collisions involving a big rig and a passenger vehicle, cars and trucks were responsible for the accident more than 75 percent of the time (and in head-on collisions, 87 percent of the time).

The CCJ put together an infographic with all sorts of current accident data from the Department of Transportation; we thought you might think it was interesting too. See below.

Infographic_0213 II



I still believe there should be certain license class for certain size vehicles.... compact-midsize class, large class and full size suv/pickup class. We already have weight class, but some people shouldn't be driving such a large vehicle when they can't even get a good bearing of there vehicles size. I see more large suv/pickup with scratch or dented bumper/corners.

Are the % numbers shown in the graphs normalized to number of trucks vs cars? If there is 1 truck every 10 cars, you would expect to see the trucks involved in less accidents.

If you normalize, you might find no difference...

Most people have more then one vehicle, I know Mark Williams thinks everyone one here drives a pickup and thats all they've ever driven. I happen to have a full size car, a small SUV and a Pickup truck, being able to jump between vehicles and know how each one handles is key.

@Mark Williams,
A lot of the fatalities here are age related. Older HDT drivers tend to use conventional Trucks, so there appears to be many fatalities from a driver wandering off the road and hitting an immovable object i.e. Cliff Face. You do not get the same thing happening wit the newer Euro or Japanese Cabover HDT's

Robert Ryan, the type of truck plays no part in it's accident rate. 99.99% of class 8 trucks sold in North America are conventionals. You couldn't give away cabovers. The Europeans only use cabovers because of restrictive lengths laws. Trucks on both continents use the same safety systems from the same manufacturers.

A lot has to do with safer vehicle designs, crash testing, safer roadways, and closer scrutiny of truck drivers via roadside inspections etc.

@uh huh
In Australia we have different classes of licences for vehicles.

The 'lowest' class only allow an operator to operate a vehicle that has a 4.5 tonnes GVM (about 10 000lbs).

The link I provided gives you an indication of vehicle type by weight and number of axles. One tonnes is equal to about 2 250lbs. So an 8 tonne licence is about 20 000lbs.

You will find many HD pickups can't be driven by a person in Australia with a car licence.

I agree with our licencing system, as their are many who have a problem driving a Corolla, let alone a midsize pickup.

In Australia the necessity of a truck license is based on what the truck CAN do, whereas in America it is dependent on what the truck IS doing. Eg. in Australia, you need a truck license to drive an F350, but not an F250 (simply because of what the F350 CAN do). In America you only need a car license to drive an F350 unless you are pulling a trailer that is over the maximum threshold for a car licence in whatever state your in. The US system makes more sense because an F250 and F350 drive exactly the same and neither requires greater skill than the other.

Even though this is not pickup related a BIG THANK YOU to Mark Williams and staff for bringing this to light. I drive commercial for a living. I know most people don't give 2 squats about the plight of big rig trucking or its drivers but there have been some questionable rules and regulations as of late that the average Joe should be worried about. Right now trucking is at a crossroads. We have a huge (and growing) problem with driver retention. Simply put we can not get enough warm bodies to sit in those seats. While some like to point out the time away from home or the low rate of pay (once you figure in all the hours away from home) the biggest problem as of late is the over regulation coming from the US Government. Now I am all for driver safety and I want to be riding down the road with safe drivers, both big and small. But the regulations coming out of DC (much like anything else coming out of DC these days) make absolutely zero sense and are simply not needed. To a degree one could argue that in an effort to make the roads more "safe" they are actually making them LESS safe. Back on July 1st of last year the Hours of Service (HOS) rules changed. Now drivers had to show 2 - 15 minute breaks along with a 30 minute lunch. Also in the change was a rule that stated drivers had to do a reset of their hours that included 2 periods of 1am to 5am together out of a total of 70 hours that they are legally allowed to drive. Basically think taking the weekend off for 2 nights. Now this don't sound bad at first but what about those team drivers who the driver is used to working nights and sleeping during the day? Now he has to change his entire sleeping schedule just to satisfy a rule that the FMCSA came up with without having the proper scientific study done 1st. How is that making a driver getting more rest or making him safer? Its not. Now look at the break and lunch. Do you know how hard it is to find a parking space (other than the side of the highway which is UNSAFE) to take those breaks or lunch? Not a problem if you are at the shipper or receiver but usually that is not the case. That coupled with the actual lack of safe truck parking is a huge problem right now. Speaking of shipping and receivers do you know that the Government has done NOTHING to make them speed up how long a truck is required to sit? How safe is it making a driver stay up and awake waiting to get loaded or unloaded for 6 to 12 hours then having his company tell him once he is loaded that he needs to drive because legally by the book he is still allowed to? Its happened to many times to me on the road. The longest I had to wait was 48 hours, think about that for a minute. With the retirement of the baby boomers that are driving for a living the situation is only going to get worse. New drivers that are coming into the industry usually burn out in less than 5 years. My point is with all of this is the accident rate for big rig trucks has fallen year over year since 1980. Out of the 4 thousand some accidents last year that involved big rigs, 3/4ths of those were caused by small cars and pickups. The over regulation is killing this industry and if those wheels are not turning this this country comes to a stop in a hurry. Maybe this is all part of Obama's grand plan, or maybe his is just not informed of how bad its really getting. Everyone's job and everyone's lifestyle depends on a guy or gal in the cab of a truck making a pickup or delivery. Everything in your house comes by the way of a truck. The stuff that built your house was brought by a truck. The highways are built by trucks. The cars you drive were on a truck at some point. The food you eat, the guy making a package pickup or delivery, even the overly paid CEO's for the most part depend on a guy driving a truck because he or she is what makes life possible for everyone else. Just food for thought guys.

For the real truckies out there or owner operators here's a link to whet your appetite. The document was prepared by KPMG a respectable company.

Great reading.

Here's a cut and paste to get you interested. After reading this you can see why the US has adopted its stance with commercial vehicles. Maybe at the demise of its own industry.


However, particularly OEMs from the established
markets continue to face a number of
challenges to maintain or grow their
market position in their home markets.
These include increasingly stringent
regulations, rising gas prices and largely
saturated markets.


The link;

@Supertrch06 Yiou will find equally you cannot give away Conventional trucks in virtually all the markets outside NA.. Specifically Europe and Asia. There some conventionals in South Africa, New Zealand and here. Australia. They are generally middle ranking Trucks in Australia/new Zealand, not that well liked in SA.

SAFETY has more to do with the driver.,.the "nut behind the wheel". Older drivers are prone to serious injuries in crashes, not so much younger ones. To keep the injuries intensive training and a youth policy should be pursued by the trucking transport companies.

Aussie truck drivers are being replaced with robots. That doesn't say much for the human driving element.

Robots???? Better and younger drivers. Problem that affects the US and European industry as well, Getting drivers is another major problem that affects everyone.

Younger drivers? These guys can't even back the trucks up into the parking spots at the truck stops. Hell I make it a game of watching them try until I feel bad for them and hop out and help them. But anymore with how bad people want to sue I try not to anymore because it means I could be held liable. Older drivers tend to be more expert and safer imo.

@Shawn .Stastically not here and in Europe.a lot of intensive driver training to reduce the accident rate and fatalities. Older drivers no matterwhat they drive end up with more serious injuries in an accident.

I think a lot of CDL drivers are safer in general for two main reasons:

1. Experience...they simply spend more time on the road than the average person. Most of which is spent in a vehicle that requires a bit more effort to handle than your average HonYotaFord CamCord150.

2. Because they simply don't want to risk losing their CDL.

For some that's because their job relies on it, for others it's because it represents a significant expenditure of time and money to get a CDL nowadays.

I mean, in my state to take a CDL course now is around $2,000 dollars (with a lot of time spent studying), then you pay triple for a license renewal every couple years, then you're required to get a physical every year and carry a card showing you're medically fit to drive a truck (which of course costs more money).

Then on top of that, CDL drivers are held to a higher standard legally. If I screw up I automatically get double the points and double the fines of a regular driver. We also have a .04 limit for drunk driving vs a regular driver's .08.

I'm sure if the average driver had to pay more to get and maintain their license, they spent more time on the road driving, and the penalties were twice as harsh for screwing up....well...they would probably be better drivers too.

Some bigger news, Ford to intoduce eight new F Series models for 2015, sounds like a good chance we will see an F-100 afterall.

It becomes very apparent that once you get your CDL and start regularly driving a rig, that the other drivers in regular cars and pickups are a bunch of morons. Statistics like these do not surprise me at all. And if you don't believe me, get your CDL and start driving a rig, you'll be shocked at how many idiots are running around on the road.

The company I work for installed drive cams on our windshields. It records both in the cab and what's going on out front. Since this policy our drivers have been cleared in 98.9% of the accidents with cars. When the driver presents to them (cop) that we can prove our innocents by pointing out the recorder the cop on the scene shares this with the other driver involved and their story changes.
It has been a great tool. I have to admit I was leery at first.

mmp: the normalization of numbers of cars a trucks? what are you talking abut, it was covered when they told everyone here, it is about the vehicle miles driven in both that counts!

I think that the trucking industry like almost any profession or skilled trade is facing an employment shortfall. Baby boomers are in their 50's and for many professions the average age of the workforce is late 40's.

Unfortunately the school system has raised several generations of people who were taught that you can do what ever you want as long as you feel good about yourself. That has lead to WalMart greeters and coffee shop waiters/waitresses with PHD's in unemployable subjects (unless you can get a job teaching those useless topics to others).

If you don't get an education that is marketable what good is it to anyone?
The "Occupy" movement doesn't pay anyone's bills.

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