Putting a price on accidents

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Kansas put its state Highway Patrol troopers in the cabs of tractor-trailers starting in mid-May for seven weeks to enforce traffic laws from a trucker’s point of view. Each truck in the TOPS – Trucks On Patrol for Safety – program was equipped with five cameras and in-cab monitors, and the trooper in the cab was armed with a radar gun.

ABF Freight System was honored by the American Trucking Associations Security Council for exceptional security practices, earning the 2007 Excellence in Security Award. The award was presented in Orlando, Fla., during the council’s recent conference.

Central Freight Lines won the Grand Trophy in the Texas Motor Transport Association’s Truck Safety Contest. CFL – whose line-haul division already had won first place of the Truck Safety Contest for Texas Carriers from TMTA – has earned the Grand Trophy three times in the past six years.

Con-way Freight received the Missouri Motor Carriers Association’s Fleet Safety Award – City Division. Judges selected the winner based on the lowest overall number of accidents on Missouri highways per one million miles. The awards are sponsored by Great West Casualty Co.

The Highway Watch program is slated to receive $11.6 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during the current fiscal year – more than double the previous year’s allocation. Homeland Security operates the Highway Watch program under a cooperative agreement with the American Trucking Associations.

A study prepared for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that police-reported crashes involving trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112 in 2005 dollars. The report, “Unit Costs of Medium/Heavy Truck Crashes,” prepared by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), provides the latest estimates of unit costs for highway crashes involving medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Accidents involving more than property damage typically are much more expensive than the average crash, PIRE found. Non-fatal injury crashes cost on average $195,258. Not surprisingly, fatal crashes were dramatically more costly, averaging more than $3.6 million each.

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To view the report, which includes tables and charts with relevant data, go to this site.

Truck crash deaths dropped in 2006, DOT says
Traffic deaths on U.S. roads were down slightly from 43,443 in 2005 to 43,300 in 2006, according to preliminary Department of Transportation figures. Fatalities from large truck crashes dropped from 5,212 to 5,018, a 3.7 percent decline, according to DOT. Preliminary figures also show that between 2005 and 2006, more than half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were unbuckled, and overall alcohol-related fatalities increased 2.4 percent from 17,525 to 17,941.

The final 2006 report will be available in late summer. The preliminary report is available at this site.

Preventable or not: Mirror, mirror on Doe’s truck
For John Doe, the day had started out pleasant enough – with a huge coffee, a scrumptious breakfast at the Gas ‘N Grub, and some country-western CD swapping with another music-loving driver, Billy Ray Aldean. At the moment, however, Doe was faced with the tedious task of backing his tractor-trailer rig down a long and extremely narrow road, between two stores in a shopping center, that ended at the loading dock of Antiquemania.

Reaching for a few of his favorite Spicy Ranch Doritos – with his four-ways flashing and his gaze riveted solely to the driver’s side West Coast mirror – Doe bravely backed toward the distant dock while cranking up his stereo to hear one of his newly acquired CDs. Suddenly, a yellow Saturn Sky, recklessly and rapidly piloted by teenager Bambi Bovambi, entered the same road, from a side street that was clearly visible in Doe’s shotgun-side mirror – if he had bothered to glance at it.

Confronted by the fast-approaching ICC bar of Doe’s rig, a bewildered Bovambi made a panic stop and desperately leaned on her horn, but