Group offers mea culpa, pulls video with incorrect fatigue stats
January 9, 2019
Earlier this week, I wrote a blog called “Lies, damned lies and statistics,” where I pointed out a mistake in a video released by the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) about its Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS). They read the blog.
Here’s a quick recap of the blog:
- The video claims that “driver fatigue causes 87 percent of all accidents where the truck was the main cause.”
- Their source was not only unreliable, but it never even said that.
- A National Academy of Sciences analysis of the source states (emphasis theirs): “Truck driver fatigue was found to be associated with 13 percent of the crashes (Starnes, 2006). This means that one of the drivers involved was found to be fatigued, but it was not established whether that fatigue was an important contributor to the crash.”
In other words, the video not only missed the mark, but the arrow was not even close to the target.
This is the same video that several state Departments of Transportation have already shared.
Within 24 hours, I received a message from someone who works for the company responsible for the video. Long story short, they acknowledge the mistake and are working to correct it. In fact, the video is no longer on the homepage of TrucksParkHere.com.
If I’m going to write a blog criticizing a video for doing what too many people already do, then I would be remiss not to write a blog commending a group for doing something that not enough people do: Own their mistake and immediately correct it.
I was told that the video would be taken down. Additionally, the group will remove the narration in question. Furthermore, since the video was released in 2016, the edited video will include updated figures.
The job of a journalist is to inform the public with factual information.
Sometimes that means pointing out information that is not factual. However, this is usually met with resistance, being ignored, being labeled “fake news” or anything other than a redaction or correction.
When a person, persons or organization gets called out and they immediately respond with an admission and correction, that’s indicative of someone who also wants the truth and made an honest mistake.
Since we’re dealing with facts, here’s another one: MAASTO, and its TPIMS program, is on the side of the truck drivers. They are actively trying to make truckers’ lives easier by providing real-time information on truck parking spaces in publicly own rest areas. It may not be more parking, but that’s not what they were given a federal grant to achieve.
Stats, studies and research are hard to read. Trust me. I read several in any given week. They are even more difficult to read when you are not an expert on the subject. This leaves the door wide open for misinterpretation. I get it.
I meant no disrespect. MAASTO meant no harm. A mistake was found, it was created and now we all move on more informed and happy. I wish it was this easy every time.