AAA Study: Car-Truck Study

ByABC News
July 23, 2002, 7:07 PM

July 23 -- Car drivers are at fault more often and substantially more likely to die in accidents with big-rig trucks, according to a study released today by the Automobile Association of America.

In 2000, 5,211 people were killed and about 140,000 injured in crashes involving large trucks, according to AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, which analyzed 10,000 fatal car-truck accidents.

In those crashes, 98 percent of fatalities occurred in the car. Car drivers were to blame in 75 percent of the accidents, while truckers were deemed responsible in the rest.

"Car drivers are unfortunately driving around trucks the same way they are driving around cars, which can lead to catastrophic circumstances," said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The AAA blamed the majority of the crashes on five driving actions the group deems unsafe:

Failure to stay in your lane. Not yielding the right of way. Speeding. Violating signs and signals. Driver inattention.

Those five actions accounted for about 65 percent of unsafe driving actions, the study found.

Car Drivers Said to Lack Awareness

The AAA study says drivers lack proper education about driving with big rigs.

"We have a lot of inexperienced drivers in cars across the board," said Kissinger. "There is definitely more information that would be helpful to educate people on the differences between cars and trucks."

But on the road, car and truck drivers are playing the blame game.

Dana Lee of Houston commutes 40 minutes to work every day at Texas Children's Hospital. She has had her share of close calls with trucks.

"Truck drivers seem to think that they have the right of way even when they don't," she said. "They drive, most of them, very dangerously."

Like many car drivers, Lee thinks truck drivers are to blame for many problems on the roads.

"They have bigger, more dangerous vehicles," she said. "They need to be a bit more careful, a bit more cautious and watch out for those in little cars."