Predicting future crashes

What if you could predict which drivers in your fleet are the most likely to be involved in a crash? You could intervene with them ahead of time, address risky behaviors, offer remedial training, and potentially prevent that crash from occurring. That would be a pretty powerful tool, and it’s actually not at all far-fetched or unattainable.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently updated its Predicting Truck Crash Involvement report. The crash predictor report aims to predict future crash involvement based on historical data. The 62-page report offers a comprehensive look at the driver behaviors that are the leading indicators of a driver’s likelihood of future crash involvement.

Did you know a driver who has committed a reckless driving violation is 114% more likely to be involved in a crash than one without such a violation? Failure to yield the right of way violations also more than doubled the likelihood of the driver being involved in a crash.

Eight other violations had a significant relationship with future crash likelihood, including: failure to keep in proper lane; failure to use signal; involvement in a past crash; improper lane violations; reckless/careless/inattentive/negligent driving; improper or erratic lane change; and hours-of-service violations.

Surprisingly, speeding violations were well down the list, with drivers convicted of speeding increasing their likelihood of being involved in a crash by just 45%.

Another interesting finding was that female drivers were less likely to engage in risky driving behaviors than males; this was consistent across all statistically significant behaviors. But women accounted for just 2.45% of all drivers included in the study. Age also played a role in a driver’s likelihood to engage in risky behavior.

The entire report is chock full of interesting data, which can – and should – be used by fleets to refine their hiring and training protocols. Commercial vehicle enforcement agencies are already using the data to modify their enforcement policies, according to the report.

“Members of the commercial motor vehicle enforcement community interviewed for this analysis stated that their agency has shifted focus toward those driver behaviors with a stronger relationship to crash risk,” the report reads.

While the crash predictor report draws on data from the U.S., I think it’s safe to say driver behaviors between U.S. and Canadian drivers do not differ drastically. A total of 439,260 drivers were included in the study, so the sample size is also significant. The full report can be downloaded from

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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