Violations — and gender — increase likelihood of crashes

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Women drivers were safer in every statistically significant safety behavior.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The next time someone jokes about women drivers, they might want to think about the latest research results from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

The institute’s updated crash predictor model continues to identify violations for reckless driving or failing to yield the right of way as the top two behaviors that predict future crashes by truck drivers. But gender appears to play a role as well.

Male truck drivers were 20% more likely than their female counterparts to be involved in a crash, while female truck drivers were safer in every statistically significant safety behavior, ATRI says.

Men were 88% more likely to have a reckless, careless, inattentive, or negligent driving conviction. They were also 73% more likely to be convicted for failing to obey a traffic signal, and 40% more likely than women to be convicted of any driving-related offence.

Age didn’t play a significant role in events that had the largest impact on future crash risk.

“It just confirms what we’ve been saying all along. Women are always concerned more about safety,” says Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association. “Women will leave a carrier if they don’t feel they’re safe in their job. Safety is a top priority.”

“This is what women bring to the industry, and this is why you want to hire women as professional drivers,” she says.

“Women do make safer drivers,” agrees Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, while driving a load of her own through Nebraska. “We have a lot more patience. A lot of the male drivers seem to suffer a lot more from road rage.” Women have a tendency to take things in stride, she adds, suggesting a “mothering” instinct plays a role in that.

ATRI’s widely cited crash predictor draws on data from more than 435,000 U.S. truck drivers over a two-year period, comparing behaviors like prior crashes, violations and convictions to the likelihood of a future crash. It was first published in 2005 through a partnership with the North Dakota State University Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Overall behaviors that raised the risk of a future crash by more than 50% include:

  1. Reckless driving violation – 114% more likely to be in a crash
  2. Failing to yield right of way violation – 101%
  3. Failing to keep in proper lane conviction – 83%
  4. Failing or improperly using a signal conviction – 82%
  5. A past crash – 74%
  6. Improper lane or location conviction – 72%
  7. Improper pass conviction – 70%
  8. Reckless/careless/inattentive/negligent driving conviction – 69%
  9. Improper or erratic lane changes conviction – 66%
  10. Improper lane change violation – 63%

Drivers with an hours of service violation were also 50% more likely than their peers to be involved in a future crash. Such violations peaked among drivers from 25 to 29 years old, and steadily decreased with age.

Drivers younger than 45 were more likely to have out of service violations, although the numbers peaked from 85 to 89 years. Drivers with an out of service violation were 29% more likely to be involved in a future crash.

Seatbelt-related violations were linked to a 33% increase in future crash risks.

Those who are involved in one crash are 74% more likely than their peers to be involved in a future crash, researchers found.

The data has emerged as a tool to focus recruiting and training practices alike, and there’s a good reason. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has found that 10-15% of drivers account for 30-50% of a total fleet’s crash risk.

“ATRI’s crash predictor model is a key input to our driver hiring and training practices. Safety is our first concern and by understanding how driver histories relate to future crash probability, we can develop targeted solutions for minimizing safety risks,” Tideport Distributing president John M. Prewitt said in a related release.

  • An original version of this article was updated to include a comment from the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada.
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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Just like to say that crashes in Ontario are going up and as lot are around thunder Bay Ontario my brother was killed jan10 2020 just west of thunder Bay by a young driver inexperienced his partner was only 24 cause of crash they were driving to fast for road conditions my brother was a sitting duck and he had given them almost 4 lanes to try and avoid but just panniked my brother was as far over as he could but instead of a ditch he could drive into was a hill right up beside him anyways 3 months later another crash an hour drive from brother’s crash two young 23 year olds again from same town as my brother s crash tried to pass another transport in fog you couldn’t see a foot in front off you sure enough truck coming other way 3 trucks decintagrated and both boys died in one truck all other drivers survived now last saterday night just outside thunder Bay Ontario 5 minutes from wair my brother died another crash this time driver of transport was 22 and had a 36 year old passenger they ran a flashing stop sign ware hwy 11 17 and highway 102 meet so instead of taking ramp to head west the transport went straight threw across 17 and tboned a grandparents and two grandchildren in a halftone truck pulling a fifth wheel trailer Lucky they got truck past the transport went right threw there trailer flipping there truck all 4 were seriously hurt and two of them were a 4 year old girl and 6 year old boy both drivers in transport were killed it’s just a shock that government can’t see there is something wrong with way they license people who come from another country my brother and everyone else that died should not of cause these drivers should never have been there I can’t take it anymore it’s just out of control anyway thanks for time be careful outthere