The European Commission and the International Road Transport Union published the European Truck Accident Causation study, which identifies causes of truck-related accidents. The report was the subject of a presentation given during the 12th World Conference on Transport Research in Lisbon, Portugal, this summer.
The study found that human error was the cause of 85.2 percent of the more than 600 studied cases. When human error was to blame, the passenger vehicle driver was at fault 75 percent of the time, with the truck driver to blame 25 percent of the time.
The main causes for accidents included speeding, failure to observe intersection rules and improperly made lane changes.
Fatigue was a main cause in only 6 percent of the 624 accidents studied, but when it was, 37 percent of those accidents were fatal. When fatigue was a main cause, nearly 90 percent of the time the accidents occurred on highways or interurban roads.
Factors involving a truck's load -- loss of load, overloaded, unbalanced load, insufficient safety measures with regard to the load -- were a main cause of only nine accidents, 1.4 percent of the total, but the study showed load factors can contribute to the severity of an accident.
The study used accident reconstruction experts to examine accidents in seven European countries -- France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Spain -- that involved at least one truck with a gross weight above 3.5 tons and resulted in at least one injury. The teams collected information, using a standardized questionnaire, about 3,000 parameters involving infrastructure, vehicles, and human factors.
You can read a paper on the study here.