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Truck Safety: Motor Carriers Office Hampered by Limited Information on Causes of Crashes and Other Data Problems

RCED-99-182 Published: Jun 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1999.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the effectiveness of the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety (OMCHS) in improving the safety of large trucks, focusing on: (1) recent trends in the number of crashes involving large trucks; (2) the factors the contribute to such crashes; and (3) OMCHS' activities to improve truck safety.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should prioritize the activities in OMCHS' safety action plan according to their potential for reducing the number of crashes and deaths and, to ensure that the activities are completed in a timely manner, only undertake those that the Office is reasonably sure it can complete within available budgetary and human resources.
Closed – Implemented
Status as of July 26, 2007: FMCSA has begun to prioritize its safety activities according to their potential for reducing the number of crashes and deaths. For example, based on the results of its study on the causes of large truck crashes indicating that truck driver and car driver factors (such as fatigue, inattention, and misjudgment) are much more likely than vehicle factors (such as defective brakes and worn tires) to be the critical reason for crashes involving a truck and a car, FMCSA has increased its focus on drivers. For example, FMCSA shifted the focus of some of its inspections from the truck to the driver, and has called on states to institute "driver inspection strike forces" in high-crash corridors. FMCSA is also investigating ways to use available data to identify high-risk drivers and take appropriate actions against them. FMCSA plans to conduct additional analyses of data from the study of crash causes over the next several years, and, depending on the results, it may make additional refinements to its enforcement programs.

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Accident preventionCommercial motor vehicle operatorsHighway safetyMotor vehicle safetyPublic roads or highwaysSafety regulationTraffic accidentsTransportation statisticsTruck driversTrucking operationsHigh risk drivers