Safety & Compliance

Researcher Critical of Railroad Study on Truck Safety

August 01, 2014

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A leading transportation researcher has characterized a report prepared for the railroad-funded Railway Supply Institute on the safety of larger trailers in trucking as fatally flawed.

“It has been demonstrated to a reasonable certainty the crash analysis suffered from numerous fatal errors. Trucks are misclassified,” said Daniel Blower, an associate research scientist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and expert on truck safety and truck crash data. “Fatalities are miscounted. The errors are substantial and not recoverable.”

Blower's critique, done independent of UMTRI and at the request of American Trucking Associations, exposes serious flaws in the report issued by the Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium on behalf of the Railway Supply Institute, according to ATA.

“Commercial motor vehicles carrying heavier loads or employing multiple trailers present significant concerns regarding the impact of their use in terms of increased accidents, accident severity and fatalities,” the railroad-funded report said. “Several proposals have been made in recent years to increase limits for truck size and weight yet significant disputes exist about the safety of heavier and longer truck configurations.”

Blower described his effort to recreate the basic data used by the RSI-funded study and his discovery that “all of the numbers in the tables are seriously wrong. In the process of trying to understand how the authors could have gotten the numbers so wrong, I found fundamental errors of analysis and evaluation.”

He said the errors include misleading labeling of tables and data, misclassification of truck types, analytical techniques that resulted in errors like double-counting of fatal injuries, use of incorrect crash statistics and unexplained estimates for vehicle miles traveled.

“In the end, I found errors and misconceptions serious enough to undermine any validity to the crash rate analysis,” Blower said.

“Dr. Blower’s analysis demonstrates what we have been saying for a long time,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “Trucking’s critics have no qualms about stretching, sometimes well past the breaking point, data and arguments to smear our industry.

“When the real world experience of more productive trucks, like twin 33-foot trailers, shows they improve efficiency, while not creating the cataclysmic safety problems these groups claim they will, they’re forced to go even further, and in the case of this most recent report, so far as to stretch the facts beyond recognition and well past the point of being useful in constructive discussions about safety,” he said.


  1. 1. Bret Scovill [ August 04, 2014 @ 05:57AM ]

    I am puzzled by this seemingly agendized effort to diminish the capability of the trucking industry to move goods and services. I am concerned as to where this effort emanates, and wonder what the purpose is. When statistics are deliberately skewed to further an agenda, I cannot help but think there is a politician behind it. These types of surveys, with witch hunt mentality, usually mean there is an effort to add layers to taxpayer funded job creation programs. These skewed concepts are put before the public with no other purpose than to vilify an industry that has done a wonderful job over the last 40 years, of making a safer and more lucrative workplace. Let us create the jobs in the market place where the consumer can benefit from gained efficiency, and the lower prices that come with it.

  2. 2. vicki [ August 04, 2014 @ 06:07AM ]

    Shut down trucking and how is the world gonna function?I'm so sick of being attacked.We take our lives in our hands everyday driving around crazy 4 wheelers that break all the rules.


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