Root Cause of Critical Crashes: Process of Elimination Method

Jul 20, 2023 | Articles

Leo S. Hughes
The root cause (or causes) of preventable truck crashes usually can usually be identified by examining the 10 primary factors below. Analysis and Elimination of these factors one by one until the main cause (or causes) have been identified can be an effective strategy to discovering the most likely root cause of the crash. This allows management to more effectively determine training needs.

Focusing on the following root causes proactively in driver development/training activities is a great strategy to prevent many of these critical crashes from occurring to begin with.

  1. Driver complacency or overconfidence

Proactive measures: Emphasize respect for the road and conditions and maintain sense of the risks of driving among the driver force.

  1. Distraction/Boredom/Inattention

Proactive measures: Use strategies that help drivers stay focused on the driving task. Effective policies for distracted driving and use of handheld mobile devices as well as use of GPS navigation systems and satellite radio.

  1. Driver Fatigue

Proactive measures: Use the CVSA’s Fatigue Management resource; improve effectiveness of HOS monitoring; Incorporate fatigue management training for drivers. Ensure drivers know they can and should stop for rest when they feel fatigued.

  1. Excessive Speed

Proactive measures: Effective policies; driver training; technology; driver accountability; speed management technologies.

  1. Lack of driving skills and/or necessary knowledge

Proactive measures: Use wide variety of driver training & development resources to address identified inadequacies; Regular safety meeting training topics on basic skills/knowledge for drivers; increase/improve FMCSA and CVSA knowledge.

  1. Insufficient commitment to technologies

Proactive measures: Invest in technologies such as blind spot detection devices; collision avoidance; cameras; adaptive cruise control; GPS navigation systems.

  1. Mechanical / Equipment / Cargo deficiencies

Proactive measures: Investments in improved maintenance practices; on-going training/development of maintenance techs; ongoing driver training in load securement and cargo loading rules and techniques; Improved quality and management of tires/brakes.

  1. Management Pressure for productivity

Proactive measures: Management training on FMCSA regulations; Management incentives on safety rather than increased productivity or on-time deliveries. Ensure trips are scheduled so as to not exceed speed limits and that provide sufficient time for safe travel.

  1. Substance Abuse

Proactive measures: Zero tolerance policy/practices company-wide; training on impact of substance abuse; Effective policies. Ensure management is fully trained on reasonable suspicion.

  1. Force Majeure (Acts of God) adverse Weather Conditions

Proactive measures: Driver training and awareness of proper driving techniques for weather hazards such as Wind / Fog / Snow / Ice / Dust / Smoke / Rain / Heat; Winter Driving toolkit; Effective policies/practices for safe driving.

About the Author


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