Freight Trucking:

Promising Approach for Predicting Carriers' Safety Risks

PEMD-91-13: Published: Apr 4, 1991. Publicly Released: May 6, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on whether certain economic or related factors could be used as predictors of accident rates in the freight-trucking industry.

GAO found that: (1) its analysis of data regarding 537 carriers indicated that 7 financial ratios showed promise as predictors of safety problems in the interstate trucking industry, but existing federal databases were not adequate to fully test those predictors; (2) federal collection of truck accident data was essentially independent of its gathering of economic data, and combining the two types of data from separate federal sources was generally impractical; (3) the federal calculation of accident rates for individual motor carriers did not adequately define industry segments or analyze safety trends over time; and (4) there was some evidence that interstate carriers in different markets or different financial situations posed different safety risks. GAO also found that factors affecting accidents rates included: (1) experienced truck drivers; (2) lower paid drivers; (3) company size; and (4) truckers who were owner-operators.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Transportation (DOT) did not concur in the recommendation and no action is anticipated.

    Recommendation: As a first step toward reducing the accidents of motor carriers, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, to require that mileage data on motor carriers falling under safety regulations be obtained annually to improve accident analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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