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Human error main contributor to truck accidents

  • 07 February 2013
  • By Robin Meczes

Human error is the major contributing factor in nine out of ten road traffic accidents, a new report from Volvo Trucks has suggested.

Though the number of road traffic fatalities has been steadily falling over the last 20 years, heavy trucks remain involved in about 17% of them, it says in its European Accident Research and Safety Report 2013 – with human error being involved in as many as 90% of all incidents.

Around 30% of accidents can – in some cases additionally – be attributed to environmental factors, such as slippery roads or bad visibility, says the report, with another 10% attributable to technical issues such as a tyre blowout or poor maintenance.

The two most common human errors in accidents involving heavy trucks are failure to look properly and failure to judge another road user’s path or speed, says the report. Where truck drivers were the cause of the accident, the main problems were inattention, misjudgement of speed and misjudgement of the risk in particular traffic situations, it adds. 

Seat belt usage among truck occupants is still “unacceptably low” and a significant contributor to fatalities, says the report, which claims that at least 50% of fatally injured non-belted truck occupants would have survived had they used a seat belt and that seat belt usage in some parts of Europe among truck drivers is as low as 5%.

Increasing the use of seat belts and driver training are key to reducing the number of accidents, it says, along with the use of active safety systems that help combat human error, including those designed to help drivers keep their lane, their distance from other vehicles and their eyes on the road,  those that help with visibility, and those that maintain vehicle stability.


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