Sunanda Dissanayake, associate professor of civil engineering, and Siddhartha Kotikalapudi, master's student in civil engineering, India, are looking at five years' worth of statistics about crashes involving commercial trucks. Although large trucks account for just 3 percent of registered vehicles in the U.S., truck-related crashes tend to be more severe than non-truck crashes.
"In 2009 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recorded that one out of every 10 traffic fatalities in the U.S. was a result from collisions involving large trucks," Dissanayake said. "When you consider that between 30,000 to 35,000 people die each year in all motor vehicle crashes, it's a pretty significant issue."
Dissanayake and Kotikalapudi are currently in the second phase of their study, titled "Study of characteristics and evaluation of factors associated with large truck crashes," which is being funded by the Mid-America Transportation Center.
Using information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System -- a comprehensive database with statistics about fatal crashes -- the researchers analyzed truck-related fatalities throughout the nation for the first phase. Currently, they are analyzing Kansas data from 2004-2008 and identifying the characteristics and factors that contributed to the crashes. A total of 18,919 crashes involving large trucks were recorded in the state throughout those five years. Of those accidents involving another vehicle, 81 percent ended with fatalities to occupants in the other vehicles, Dissanayake said.
To find the cause of these truck crashes, the engineers studied the driver, road, vehicle and environmental characteristics involved in accident.
Researchers found that among the 18,9191 truck crashes in Kansas, 13,260 -- or 73 percent -- were contributory causes related to the truck driver. Failing to give enough time and attention to the task being completed -- such as switching lanes, passing another vehicle, etc. -- was the biggest contributor to driver-related crashes. Similarly, speeding, failing to yield the right of way, improper lane changes and following another vehicle too closely made up the top five contributors.
"Even though it may not feel that way, there are a lot of processes going on when you drive," Dissanayake said. "Your brain is getting lots of information and processing it to determine what your action will be. So if a driver misses a detail or doesn't give enough time to process that information related to what they are doing, it could lead to a crash."
Other causes contributing to truck crashes included: environmental-related, such as animals or rain -- 13 percent; road-related, such as ice or wet asphalt -- 7.8 percent; and vehicle-related, such as falling cargo or defective brakes -- 6.1 percent.
Additionally, researchers found:
* Nearly 78 percent of truck-crashes happened during daylight and with no adverse weather conditions like rain or snow.
* A majority of the truck crashes happened between noon and 3 p.m.
* More truck crashes happened in locations with a high speed limit.
Dissanayake and Kotikalapudi are using these findings, as well as those from statistical models based on the data, to develop new safety guidelines and educational tools for truck drivers in an effort to reduce truck-related crashes.
Similarly, recommendations may also be made for new or amended legislation -- both for the truck drivers and other drivers -- Dissanayake said.
"Kansas recently introduced the Click It or Ticket seat belt law, for example," she said. "The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $10. Some people may feel that a $10 fine is affordable and is not a deterrent to have their freedom compromised, so that might be an issue that needs to be looked into further."
Dissanayake has studied several other traffic engineering and safety topics, including accidents on gravel roads and why older drivers are involved in more severe accidents.
Sunanda Dissanayake, 785-532-1540, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunanda Dissanayake | Newswise Science News
Laser rescue system for serious accidents
29.11.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Bremen University students reach the final at robotics competition with parcel delivery robot
19.10.2016 | BIBA - Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy