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Many of the variables thought to contribute to a DOT crash do not.

The likelihood of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accident is buried in data collected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA’s Analysis & Information Online offers a look into some of the more common circumstances connected to CMV crashes.

Consider the following statistics as you investigate your crashes and provide driver training.

Weather & road surfaces

Accident reports indicate:

  • Most CMV accidents occurred when it was clear (81.8%) and the roads were dry (81%).
  • Far fewer crashes happened when it was raining (8%) or snowing (3%).
  • In respect to precipitation, roads were:
    • Wet 11.5 % of the time,
    • Covered with snow or slush about 3.4 %, and
    • Icy 2.5%.

Most of the crashes occurred when there was no apparent risk on the roadway surface; this implies that something else was going on at the time of the crash in most cases.

As best practice, carriers should perform their own accident investigations to learn:

  • Why the event occurred, and
  • What role their drivers played.

If the crash was the result of inattentive or distracted driving, carriers may need to provide additional driver training or beef up their policies and procedures. If the crash was the result of another driver’s actions, your driver may need training on identifying risks and hazards on the road.

For those few crashes that were weather-related or due to poor road conditions, train drivers on defensive driving techniques, such as skid control and speed and space management.

Lighting conditions

One might believe that most CMV crashes occur when it is dark. But the statistics tell another story about lighting conditions:

  • Daylight – 73.9%
  • Dark, not lighted – 12.1%
  • Dark, lighted – 9.8%
  • Dark, unknown roadway lighting – 0.4%
  • Dawn – 2.4%
  • Dusk – 1.2%

Most crashes occurred during daylight. This may be due to more motorists and/or CMVs on the road during those hours. Nevertheless, whatever the root cause, drivers must be trained on hazard perceptions, so they do not become complacent during daylight hours.


Fatal crashes occurred more often in rural settings (55%) than urban (45%).

Even though rural driving was about 10 percent higher than urban, the two are still comparable. Drivers should receive training on rural and/or urban driving, as each poses its own set of safety challenges.


Most CMV crashes occurred on Thursdays (18.1%), followed by Wednesday (17.9%), Tuesday (17.4%), Friday (17.2%), and Monday (16.3%). The weekend saw the least activity (Sunday at 5.3% and Saturday at 7.8%).

As far as time of the day, most crashes occur between 6am and 6pm, peaking from noon to 3:00pm.

Since pick-up and delivery times are often at the customer’s discretion, the carrier and driver may have little control of the timing of routes. Drivers must watch for risks as traffic increases during weekday rush hours. Key to remember: FMCSA’s statistics imply that a driver’s actions may play a greater role in crashes than external variables. Driver training may be the best way to prevent crashes.

Key to remember

FMCSA’s statistics imply that a driver’s actions may play a greater role in crashes than external variables. Driver training may be the best way to prevent crashes.