The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the start of a two-year study into the causes of crashes involving large trucks.

The study is part of the action plan the agency announced last May to help reduce the number deaths associated with truck crashes, said Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.
The study is the first national effort to collect crash data for the purpose of determining causal factors of large truck crashes, according to the DOT. The study's main goal is to identify the specific causes of fatal and injury crashes involving large trucks, to find ways to help prevent them from occurring in the first place.
The study is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA) provided for the study.
Beginning this month, teams of crash researchers from the NHTSA's National Automotive Sampling System and state truck inspectors will investigate fatal and injury crashes involving large trucks in 24 locations in 17 states. Crash details will be collected at crash scenes on involved drivers, vehicles, the roadway, and the environment.
More than 1,000 crashes will be investigated during two years of data collection. Information collected by the researchers and inspectors will be forwarded to NHTSA motor vehicle crash experts, who will determine what made the crash inevitable, the reasons for the crash, and factors that contributed to the crash.
As part of the project, the Volpe Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass., will build a crash database that will be reviewed and analyzed by FMCSA and NHTSA, then made available to the public.
The study team will be advised by a 14-member committee, assembled by the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council. Members are drawn from academic institutions and transportation consulting firms with expertise in motor vehicle crashes. The advisory committee will ensure that the study receives input from a wide array of motor carrier and highway safety experts, as outlined in MCSIA.