FMCSA announces plans for large truck crash study

January 14, 2020

Mark Schremmer


The FMCSA is working toward launching a study looking at the factors that contribute to large truck crashes.

As part of the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C., FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen announced on Monday, Jan. 13, plans for the study. A request for information notice is scheduled for publish in the Federal Register on Jan. 15.

Goals of the study

The request for information is the building-blocks stage of creating a new Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study.

“FMCSA seeks information on how best to design and conduct a study to identify factors contributing to all FMCSA reportable large truck crashes (tow-away, injury and fatal),” the notice said. “Methodologically, the agency seeks information on how best to balance sample representativeness, comprehensive data sources, ranges of crash types, and cost efficiency.

“The study should be designed to yield information that will help FMCSA and the truck safety community to identify activities and other measures likely to lead to significant reductions in the frequency, severity, and crash rate involving commercial motor vehicles.”

The agency said the methodology should address the use of on-board electronic systems, which can generate information about speeding, lane departure, and hard braking.

According to the FMCSA, the study will help improve the agency’s ability to:

  • Evaluate crashes involving large trucks and identify emerging trends
  • Monitor crash trends and identify causes and contributing factors.
  • Develop effective safety-improvement policies and programs.

Previous study

FMCSA previously released a Crash Causation Study in 2006. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, as well as other trucking groups, were critical of the study.

Land Line’s Jami Jones reported in 2006 that rather than reporting who was at fault and why, the study was actually a collision-avoidance or crash-prevention study focused on pre-collision events instead of the consequences.

One example in the study was a truck, which had the turn arrow, turning across the path of an oncoming car at an intersection. As part of the study’s methodology, the critical event was the truck’s turn across the path of the other vehicle even though the car was the one that ran the red light.

How to comment

Once the request for information is published in the Federal Register, the agency will accept comments for 60 days. To submit a comment, go to and enter docket number FMCSA-2019-0277.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.