Removing unsafe commercial drivers and vehicles from operation has received additional impetus as a result of a Department of Transportation (DOT) performance review. The Office of Inspector General conducted the review and issued recommendations June 4, 2001.
"We recommend establishing performance measures on the rate of foreign and domestic commercial drivers and vehicles placed out of service following inspection," the report states.
The recommendations come in conjunction with a government goal to reduce the number of large truck related fatalities by 50% by the end of 2009. The base line is set at 5,374 fatalities that occurred in 1998. In 2000, an estimated 5,307 people were killed in traffic crashes involving large trucks, about 13% of all people killed in motor vehicle incidents. However, trucks represent only 4% of registered vehicles and about 7% of the vehicle-miles of travel.
A similar goal applies to reducing the number of injuries that occur in truck-related accidents. That goal is to reduce the number of injuries by 20% by 2008, using a 1998 baseline of 127,000. In 2000, about 145,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks.
The report recommends that the DOT performance measures be established to help determine if the department will meet its goals for reducing large truck-related fatalities and injuries.
During the last four years, the nationwide rate for United States drivers and vehicles placed out of service by DOT has remained at 8% for drivers and 25% for vehicles per 100 million miles traveled, according to the report. In 2000, the states performed over 2.4 million roadside inspections.
DOT uses the inspection data to target high-risk motor carriers for safety fitness determinations, and to screen the companies' drivers and vehicles for roadside inspection. The data also is used to compute a nationwide out-of-service rate, which is considered a benchmark for comparing motor carrier performance, according to the report.
The out-of-service rate for commercial drivers and commercial vehicles inspected is determined by the percentage of drivers and vehicles removed for serious safety violations. Data is collected from the states, which perform roadside safety inspections.
DOT has reported that driver log violations are the most frequent reason for removing drivers from service. This is an indication of excessive driving hours and driver fatigue, according to the report. Driver fatigue has been recognized as a long-standing highway safety problem contributing to crashes.