Oregon truck accident attorneys and safety advocates have proof that their commitment to safety is paying off. The state’s commitment to trucking safety is working, thanks in large part to regular, intensive inspections. According to an official state report, in 2009 Oregon had not only fewer truck crashes but also fewer fatalities and injuries in big-rig accidents.
The Oregon Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Transportation Division (MCTD) reported 905 crashes involving trucks in 2009, a decrease of 28 percent from 2008. The truck was at fault in 497 of those crashes (down 26 percent from 2008). Mechanical problems caused only 30 truck accidents; the others were due to drivers’ behavior — mainly speeding, but also following too close, improper lane changes, and failing to yield the right of way. Interestingly, no state or federal agency other than the Oregon DOT analyzes truck-crash statistics to assign fault.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) gives financial assistance to Oregon truck-safety programs and similar ones in other states through its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). The MCSAP mandates five elements of enforcement:
• Driver/vehicle inspections
• Traffic enforcement with inspection
• Compliance reviews
• Public education and awareness
• Data collection.
Oregon’s DOT has met or exceeded MCSAP goals in almost every area.
Because most Oregon big-rig crashes are caused by truck drivers, a major focus of the state’s commercial vehicle safety plan has been on increasing regular inspections to monitor drivers’ behavior and fitness. Enforcement efforts have also concentrated on a dozen Accident Intensified MCSAP (AIM) Corridors that see a lot of crashes.
The MCTD’s report noted that the 30 crashes attributed to mechanical problems are consistent with the safety plan’s emphasis on checking driver behavior and fitness as the most effective way to reduce crashes.