How preventable DOT trucking accidents impact California drivers

Although traffic accidents in California have decreased over the years, the numbers remain slightly higher than the national average of 2.6 per 1,000. California averages three accidents for every 1,000 cars on the road.

One of the keys to decreasing these numbers is determining which accidents are preventable and educating drivers.

How the DOT monitors trucking accidents

According to reporting from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), accidents involving big trucks accounted for 4,998 fatal accidents in 2020, the most current year for which statistics are available. Unfortunately, a large number of these accidents are preventable.

Motor vehicle collisions, including trucking accidents, are tracked by the Department of Transportation (DOT) if they:

  • Result in a vehicle being towed
  • Result in an injury requiring immediate medical attention
  • Result in a fatality

Drivers involved in DOT-qualifying accidents are reported to the federal government and the information is attached to their driver’s license for five years. The purpose is two-fold: to study cause and effect to devise prevention strategies and act as a deterrent for drivers.

Preventing accidents on California highways

Activities like distracted driving are a major cause of traffic accidents and are completely preventable. Such accidents are caused by spilling hot coffee, texting, or talking on a mobile device while driving.

Preventable accidents aren’t reported to DOT as long as they are outside the qualifying parameters, so the inciting incident needs to be listed as such.

Accidents that are considered non-preventable include:

  • Being hit while legally parked or stopped
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Being hit by an intoxicated driver
  • Accidents as the result of a medical condition

Trucking accidents due to extreme or rare situations, such as the vehicle being hit by an animal or a collision caused by an act of nature, are also included under the “non-preventable” umbrella.

The key to preventing accidents on California roadways is understanding the causes. With this data in hand, researchers, engineers, and government agencies can devise more effective measures to educate drivers and decrease the number of highway fatalities.

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