March 2021 Market Insights
With fewer vehicles on the road1 and less truck tonnage2 reported in 2020 compared to 2019*, FleetSeek’s team of analysts wanted to see if that translated to fewer crashes overall, and if so, by how much?
For this analysis, we used Motor Carrier Crash Information as published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration3. Based on VINs and other information reported, we have extracted only those crashes for medium-duty (classes 4 to 6) and heavy-duty (classes 7 and 8) trucks and tractors, which for simplicity sake we will be referring to as Medium Duty Trucks and Heavy Duty Trucks.
While the following analysis relates to crashes in the United States in aggregate, FleetSeek’s robust application includes highly granular crash information, empowering users to understand the number of crashes, towaways, fatalities, and injuries specific to a fleet.
Among Medium and Heavy Duty Trucks, there were 25.3% fewer crashes in 2020 compared to 2019*. Specifically, there were 29.0% fewer crashes for Medium Duty Trucks and 24.7% fewer crashes for Heavy Duty Trucks.
Zooming in a bit on the crash data, we can see which crashes had at least one injury or fatality, which we have classified as severe crashes. Overall, severe crashes were down 27.5%, with Medium Duty Trucks seeing 31.3% fewer severe crashes and Heavy Duty Trucks down 27.0%. As with overall crashes, severe crashes experienced a rollercoaster from April 2020 through the rest of the year, as shown in the chart below:
While the reduction in vehicle miles travelled (VMT)1 and truck tonnage2 are likely the dominant reasons for these reductions in crashes, the strains on filling driver seats could also be playing a role. Driver shortages were not new in 2020 but were exacerbated by the pandemic4. With bottlenecks for training and CDL issuance there were fewer new drivers coming in and with new FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements drivers with violations have been forced out. This combination could mean the drivers on the roads in 2020 were more experienced and less risky.
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 U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Vehicle Miles Traveled [VMT], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/VMT, Retrieved March 3, 2021.
 U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Truck Tonnage [TRUCKD11], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TRUCKD11, Retrieved March 3, 2021.
 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Motor Carrier Crash Information, https://ask.fmcsa.dot.gov/app/mcmiscatalog/d_crash1, Retrieved March 3, 2021.
 Transport Dive, The driver shortage: A big piece of the tight capacity puzzle, https://www.transportdive.com/news/coronavirus-truck-driver-shortage-capacity-Q3-2020/584788/, Retrieved March 3, 2021
*All year-over-year 2019 to 2020 comparisons in this reporting are based on data from January through November only for each year.