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Bracy et al (2018) Autonomous Vehicles Study

For Immediate Release:

April 10, 2018

Paper Presented at TRF

Shows Autonomous Trucks Could Prevent Over 100 Severe Truck Crashes per Year in Missouri


A study presented at this week’s Annual Transportation Research Forum (TRF) in Minneapolis finds that autonomous trucks could prevent between 117 and 193 severe truck crashes (crashes causing fatalities or injuries) per year in Missouri.  Preventing these crashes would save between 5 and 11 lives per year and prevent between 111 and 182 injuries per year.


The study is based on data from the STARS database on large truck crashes in Missouri between 2013 and 2015.  This database has data on 425,374 crashes with 237 variables for each crash.  Motor carrier drivers were found to have contributed to 15,338 of these crashes, with 105 fatalities and 1,596 injuries over this three-year period.  The four most common causes of these crashes were driving too fast for conditions, distracted and inattentive driving, overcorrecting in response to steering errors or movements of other vehicles, and driving under the influence of alcohol.


Because Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology has the potential to prevent these kinds of driver-error crashes, the study estimates how many crashes could have been prevented if AV truck technology had been in place.  The study used Chi-square Automatic Interaction Detection (CHAID) decision trees to analyze the effects of removing crash causes on reducing crashes.  Connected Vehicle (CV) technology involves trucks driving in “platoons” of two or more trucks driving one immediately behind the other, with the lead truck controlling the actions of the trailing trucks.  These platoons can reduce fuel consumption and also contribute to crash reduction.


For AV and CV technology to achieve these safety improvements, the technology will need to autonomously control acceleration and steering, monitor the environment, and respond to dynamic driving environments without human intervention.  Infrastructure improvements will also be needed to provide readable lane markings, traffic signals and signs as well as dedicated refueling and/or recharging facilities.  CV technology will probably require dedicated lanes managed for the use of truck platoons.



About TRF

The Transportation Research Forum (TRF) is an independent organization of transportation professionals founded in 1958 to provide an impartial meeting ground for carriers, shippers, government officials, consultants, university researchers, suppliers, and others seeking an exchange of information and ideas on both passenger and freight transportation.  TRF conducts a national Annual Forum, and has chapters in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, and South Korea.


Ian Savage, TRF President

Ann Warner LLC, TRF VP Public Relations
[email protected]