If these numbers could talk, what would we learn? p2

We're continuing our discussion from our March 30, 2015, post. We were looking at truck accident statistics published on the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security's website. We were wondering whether the state took any contributing factors (aside from alcohol impairment) into account when analyzing the data. Was there a weather pattern, for example, that proved particularly dangerous for truckers in the state? What about compliance issues or road construction projects?

The construction question comes up because of a recent accident in Texas. A tractor trailer hauling an oversized load attempted to travel under a low bridge that was under construction. The truck struck some beams and at least two of them fell onto the road. A pickup truck passing in the opposite direction was crushed by the beams, and the driver was killed. Three other people were injured, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The accident is still under investigation, but officials said they would try to determine why the beams came loose and why the driver was traveling along that stretch of highway with an oversized load -- neither the driver nor the trucking company had obtained the proper authorization from the department of transportation to travel that route.

Next year, someone looking at crash data for Texas may only see this accident as one fatal crash involving a tractor-trailer. If that happens, how can the state improve, for example, signage leading up to road construction projects? How can the state improve compliance with rules governing low-clearance bridges and overpasses?

If this crash had occurred at a road-grade railroad crossing, chances are the state (not to mention federal investigators) would collect as much detailed information about the accident as possible and then determine if there was a site-specific or system-wide fix that would minimize the risk (this is true in both Tennessee and Texas). But overpasses and bridges … not so much.

Why is that?

Source: Insurance Journal, "No Proper Permit for Texas Truck in I35 Bridge Accident," March 30, 2015

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