If trucks and truckers were perfect…

Sandi Soendker
Managing Editor


You know that snatch of film that often appears at the end of some TV shows, those creative little sign-offs from the production company? One shows an old lady being blasted over backward in her rocker. That’s what I feel like today as I read what John Hill, the former head of FMCSA, just told FleetOwner Magazine.

Hill’s new company will “help advance the use of safety systems and policies” in commercial trucking. He says he believes that if we (the royal we) put a focus on getting safety technology on to commercial vehicles, we can see a 30 percent or more decline in truck-car crashes.

My body may be rocked over backward on the floor of my office, but my brain is saying if you believe that, see me about buying that stretch of I-70 in front of OOIDA headquarters. Here’s why I’m practically speechless.

About 10 years ago, I interviewed a guy named Dan Blower, a researcher with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. He was the guy whose study revealed that most of the car-truck fatalities were not the fault of the trucker. Yes. That guy.

Dan told me something that knocked me out. He said that even if truckers NEVER made an error, if truckers NEVER operated in an unsafe manner, if they were all perfect – only a minority of the car-truck fatal crashes would be eliminated.

This is a fact our government and our safety advocates can’t seem to get a grip on.

Why is that so hard to understand? And why can’t we keep this in mind when we are expending such massive sums and creating such efforts to make trucks toe the safety mark?

I don’t see one-fourth of that effort aimed at the documented more dangerous drivers like elderly drivers who should have parked it years ago or inexperienced teenagers who race up and down the highway every day, three in front and four in the back, radios booming, no seat belts, zipping in and out of traffic.

If we want to reduce car-truck crashes, the nation needs to create an appropriate balance by improving the actions of the other vehicles on the road. LL