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Truck mechanical condition and crashes in the large truck crash causation study

UMTRI-2009-9

In: Sponsored by: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Authors: Daniel F. Blower, Paul E. Green.

This study examines the relationship of heavy truck mechanical condition and crash risk. The LTCCS presents an opportunity to examine in more detail than previously possible the relationship of vehicle condition to crash risk. The report includes a review of existing literature, a full analysis of the results of the post-crash truck inspections, and a series of logistic regression models to test the association of vehicle condition and crash role. Two specific hypotheses are tested: The first hypothesis is that trucks with defects and out of service conditions are statistically more likely to be in the role of precipitating a crash than trucks with no defects or out of service conditions. The second hypothesis is that defects in specific systems, such as the brake system, are associated with crash roles in which those systems are primary in crash avoidance, and that there is a physical mechanism that links the vehicle defect with the crash role. Post crash inspections showed that the condition of the trucks in the LTCCS is poor. Almost 55 percent of vehicles had one or more mechanical violations. Almost 30 percent had at least one out of service condition. Among mechanical systems, violations in the brake (36 percent of all) and lighting system (19 percent) were the most frequent. A brake OOS condition increased the odds of the truck assigned the critical reason (identifying the precipitating vehicle) by 1.8 times. Both HOS violations and log OOS increased by a larger amount-2.0 and 2.2 times respectively. In rear-end and crossing paths crashes, brake violations, especially related to adjustment, increased the odds of the truck being the striking vehicle by 1.8 times.

Research Group: