Daniel F. Blower reviewed data on nearly 5,500 fatal crashes that involved one truck - defined as cargo-carrying vehicles with a weight rating over 10,000 pounds - and passenger vehicles (automobiles, sport utility vehicles and light trucks).
Blower reports in the current issue of the UMTRI Research Review that more than 92% of head-on collisions were solely the responsibility of the passenger-vehicle driver. These accidents were also the most likely to be fatal. Nearly 23% of the crashes studied were head-on collisions in the trucks' lane.
The research found that in another common type of accident, where a truck hits a passenger vehicle in the side at an intersection, the passenger-vehicle driver was responsible in 76% of these cases. The truck driver was at fault in 13.5%, and both drivers in 8.5% of the cases. This type of accident represented 17% of the crashes between passenger vehicles and trucks.
In the third most common type of accident between cars and trucks - a passenger car rear-ending a truck - the truck driver was responsible in only 4% of the cases. The passenger car driver was responsible in 76% of these cases, and both drivers shared the fault in 16% of these crashes.
Overall, Blower discovered, truck drivers were solely responsible in only 16% of crashes. Passenger-vehicle drivers were solely responsible in 70% of crashes. In 10%, the two drivers were both at fault.
"It is clear that addressing the 'truck safety problem' must take into account more than just trucks and truck drivers," Blower writes in his report.