What are the 10 Top Predictors of a Future Crash?

Happy New Year! Every year, I have the same wish and goal for my readers, supporters, and clients. My desire and plan for 2023 are for us all to be safer than last year.

In the past, I have referred to ATRI; the American Transportation Research Institute. This organization does a great deal of work researching transportation industry-specific issues.

To safety geeks, the results are fascinating. In 2005 they did their first “driver behaviour and the associated increase in future crash probability” study. They repeated the survey in 2011, again in 2018, and most recently in 2022. For truck drivers, the results should be listened to and carefully considered.

Why? If we can examine and associate the past and connect it to the future, then we can predict the future with some accuracy. Tracking safety, people would love to eliminate a future crash. A truck driver would love to illuminate a coming collision. Those who share the road with trucks and tractor-trailers would also love to stop future impacts.

Although this may sound easy because all we are doing is looking at a driver’s past in predicting the future, it becomes much more complicated in the current truck driver shortage. Every day, truck drivers get hired who should have been passed over, even if we know the future for the driver is not promising. This driver has committed many past sins and if we didn’t have so many empty trucks, we would pass this applicant over. But some companies are willing to take a chance. Please don’t be that company.

What does a company that takes a chance look like? Their safety scores may not be perfect. And their insurance provider is watching them closely and asking themselves if they should renew them. So, let’s not be one of those companies.

ATRI has done this crash predictor study four times. Two items have made it into the top 10 every year. Perhaps you should avoid drivers who, on their application, show a “pass crash” and “an improper or erratic lane change conviction”. These two past violations appear in the top 10 crash predictor models in every study. So, driver applicants with either a past crash or an improper lane change conviction should be avoided whenever possible. The future likelihood of this applicant having another smash is very high.

Six other items made it into the top ten, in three out of the four studies. And I would think that if I were a recruiter, I would try to avoid hiring drivers with any of the following violations: “right of way violation”, “improper signal conviction”, reckless driving violation”, “failure to keep improper lane” and “improper lane conviction”.

When I look at this list of six violations, what stands out to me is that they all appear to be forms of aggressive driving. Read that list over again. Do you agree that they are all indicators of driver behaviour that is unacceptable and perhaps aggressive? If you do agree, then why do we continue to hire these drivers, put road safety at risk and expose our company in this way?

Shouldn’t we be encouraging drivers to behave better? If we are forced to hire a driver with any of the above convictions, what are we doing to change the driver’s behaviour in the future? Are we giving the driver some extra training? Are we closely monitoring this driver more than others? What are we doing that is extra special in this driver’s case? Because if this driver has a crash, you know the lawyers will be asking the same question.

For your convenience, here is the link to the ATRI info: https://truckingresearch.org/2022/10/11/atris-latest-crash-predictor-model-corroborates-strong-role-of-driver-behaviors-to-future-truck-crashes/

All the best and stay safe this new year.

Stay safe. 

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.