& Bus Safety Research Needs
Research Board (TRB) Truck & Bus Safety Research Committee (ANB70)
Revised November 2, 2018
This document identifies sixty-two
(62) truck and bus safety research and development needs in 11 different
topical areas. Like other TRB committees, the Truck & Bus Safety Research
Committee (ANB70) seeks to identify and articulate research needs in its
discipline and to encourage research organizations to perform needed research.
To this end, the committee has identified research needs in its major topic
areas. For many, the committee has written more detailed Research Needs
Statements (RNSs) on the TRB RNS website (http://rns.trb.org/).
ANB70 asks both research-funding and research-performing organizations to
consider these research needs in their strategic planning and allocation of
resources. ANB70 members are available to provide further explanations
regarding them. ANB70 also welcomes research needs statements written by
non-members. More information is available on our website
[http://www.ugpti.org/trb/truckandbus/] or by contacting committee Chair Bob Scopatz (BScopatz@VHB.com) or committee research coordinator Nicholas Kehoe
The following 62 research needs are
organized into 11 focus areas, corresponding to topics within the committee’s
scope and its subcommittees. Twenty-nine (29) of these are further articulated
online as Research Needs Statements (RNSs); the other 33 may be written and
uploaded as RNSs in the future. This list will be updated periodically. Those
with the designation “RNS” are online on the TRB RNS website. Readers
interested in those topics should review those RNSs since they contain
extensive information. Although the needs below are classified by principal
category, almost all of them relate to other categories as well.
Assessment & Data:
- RNS: Toward Naturalistic
Driving Crash Representativeness.
Develop crash and event profiling, stratification, and data weighting
schemes to make naturalistic driving safety-critical event (SCE) datasets
conform more closely to crash datasets such as the LTCCS, thus increasing
their validity and usefulness.
- RNS: Multi-Dimensional, Omnibus
Crash Problem Size Analysis to Support Countermeasure Assessments. Generate en
masse a huge number (10,000) of specific, countermeasure-relevant
crash problem size statistics on different crash types, causes, other
factors, vehicle types, etc. to support countermeasure assessments.
- RNS: Single-Vehicle Crash
Involvement as a Commercial Driver Risk Indicator. Assess the validity, safety benefit, and practicality
of using involvements in CMV single-vehicle crashes as indicators of
- RNS: Survey Methodologies for
Motor Carrier Research.
Review the fundamentals of survey research methodologies in the context of
CMV transport. Generate guidelines for improving CMV transport surveys.
- RNS: CMV Crash Risk by
Time-of-Day. Review the available data sources
to determine large truck crash rates and risks by time-of-day. This
includes numerator (crash number, harm) and denominator (exposure)
- RNS: Exposure Data to Support
Improved Truck Crash Risk Estimates.
Evaluate existing and potential exposure measures corresponding to crash
variables for generating more valid and meaningful relative risk
estimates. Publish a compendium of exposure (“denominator”) variables and
data similar to existing crash (“numerator”) reports.
- RNS: Analyze Injury Outcomes
of Rural and Urban Truck Crashes. Review characteristics and factors
contributing to crash severity in rural and urban areas. Generate
strategies for prevention.
- Trip- and Carrier-Specific
Exposure Risk Estimation.
Develop an algorithm whereby the exposure risk of any trip and, in the
aggregate, any larger operation could be estimated based on multiple known
risk factors such as trip length, types of roads traveled, traffic
densities, time-of-day, and day-of-week.
- Methods for Representative
CMV Driver Sampling. There are wide variations in
CMV driver operations types, vehicles driven, traffic environment,
physical job requirements, and other characteristics. The envisioned study
would delineate key CMV driver characteristics for the development of representative
- Light Vehicle and CMV Following Distances. Monitor
highway vehicle-to-vehicle following distances, by vehicle type
combinations (both light vehicle types and truck types), to gain insights
into light vehicle-CMV rear-end crashes.
- RNS: Suicide by Truck. A European study reports that 65
of 379 fatal truck crashes (17%) are suspected suicides by car drivers.
Assess this problem in North America and determine implications for crash
reporting, carrier safety management, and countermeasures.
- RNS: Naturalistic Driving Safety-Critical Event Datasets: What Exactly Do They Represent?
- State Practices Relating to Exempt Motor Carrier
Operations. Examine state laws, regulations, and practices relating to MC
operations that are exempted from HOS and other regulations; e.g., which
industries/commodities, actual exemptions, safety data comparing exempt to
- Effects of New
Assess effects of the 2013 HOS rule changes using large, nationally
representative samples; this includes effects on CMV safety (driving and
non-driving), driver health, driver income, the driver shortage, and the
overall safety and economic performance of the industry.
Enforcement & Compliance:
- RNS: Optimized CMV Enforcement
Field Test. Conduct a large-scale
regional field test to determine the optimal mix of MCSAP-supported
enforcement strategies, and likely involving a shift toward relatively
more traffic enforcement.
- RNS: Understanding What
Violations Report on the CDLIS.
Examine state and other jurisdictional practices (e.g., reporting criteria)
and performance (e.g., completeness, accuracy) in reporting traffic
convictions to other states and to the Commercial Drivers License
Information System (CDLIS).
- RNS: Traffic Violation-Triggered
Carrier Audits. Assess the merits of
initiating carrier audits following extreme traffic violations such as
overspeeding, based in part on the Australian experience using this
- Characterize Non-MCSAP
Traffic Enforcement. Quantify and characterize CMV
traffic enforcement activity (stops, violations, convictions) by non-Motor
Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) police officers, and determine
its significance as a supplement to MCSAP-funded traffic enforcement.
Note: Also see “Optimized CMV Enforcement Field Test” RNS below.
Health & Wellness:
- RNS: Why Are Commercial
Drivers So Unhealthy? Determine the relative roles of different job
factors, and also non-job
factors including demographics, personal traits (resulting in
self-selection for the job), and health-related attitudes.2. RNS: Work-Related Distress &
Mental Disorders in Commercial Drivers.
Determine the prevalence, health effects, and safety effects of
work-related distress and mental disorders among CMV drivers.
- RNS: Commercial Driver Health and Wellness Programs to
Impact Driving Safety. Test two
hypotheses: (1) CMV drivers who adopt a health and wellness lifestyle will
be safer drivers; (2) Employee H&W programs (e.g., screenings) will
promote driver behavioral changes and additional carrier wellness
- Sleep Disorder Screening
Criteria. Determine efficacy and cost
effectiveness of implementing new sleep disorder screening criteria for
CDL certification in driver medical examinations. FMCSA is contemplating
new criteria (e.g., BMI) for requiring driver sleep lab testing. Examine
the costs and benefits of such changes in terms of health, driving safety,
and operational practicalities.
- Nutrition, Diet, Weight
Management for CMV Drivers.
Elucidate driver eating habits as part of health and weight management
factors for their implications in overall driver wellness and fitness.
Study driver’s nutritional knowledge, accessibility of healthy food
especially during over-the-road operations, and the willingness of drivers
to engage in healthy eating.
- Large & Small Carrier
H&W Program Assessment.
Conduct case studies of programs geared toward drivers in both large and
small carriers to identify viable H&W interventions,
return-on-investment, and best practices that can improve human capital
strategies to viably serve both employer communities.
- CMV Driver Physical, Medical, Fitness Standards Linked
to Functional Abilities. Conduct research to elucidate medical and H&W
selection, placement, and retention standards linked to transient states,
diseases and medical conditions, and to specific functional abilities to
drive and to crash causation.
- CMV Driver Injuries from
Slips, Trips, and Falls. Conduct
research that identifies the causes and solutions of CMV driver injuries
due to lifting and vehicle egress and ingress.9. CMV Driver Distress. Determine the prevalence, health
effects, and safety effects of work-related distress and mental disorders
among CMV drivers. In addition, determine best approaches for providing
CMV drivers with health services. Note: See RNS on same topic, listed
- Assess Truck Stop Rest & Hygiene Services. Assess
and compare the driver rest, sleep, and hygiene-related facilities and
services available at North American truck stops, including any obstacles
drivers face (e.g., cost, availability) in using them.
- Health & Safety Communication Strategies with
Commercial Drivers. Determine the best media and formats for contacting
and communicating with commercial drivers.
- RNS: Driver Performance and
Other Causal Mechanisms in Quasi-Experimental Hours-of-Service (HOS)
Studies. Validate and elucidate
findings from major HOS studies using quasi-experimental designs without
controls for likely confounding factors such as time-of-day. Discern
- RNS: Self-Assessment Bias among Commercial Drivers. Survey
drivers regarding self-assessments of their safety and health, and relate
these self-assessments to other driver characteristics, including risk
perception, openness to improvement, and objectively measured safety and
- RNS: Truck Driver Cabin Ergonomics. Assess truck cab
ergonomic configurations for the purpose of improving driver comfort and
safety. Goals include reduced back pain, reduced fatigue, reduced
distraction, and increased safety belt use.
- RNS: Investigating School Bus
Driver Distraction. Collect naturalistic data on
school bus drivers performing their normal driving tasks on bus routes to
determine distraction sources.
- Strategic Review of Crash
Causes & Countermeasures.
Conduct a comprehensive, top-down review of truck and bus safety efforts
(Federal, State, industry, public education, etc.) as related to our
knowledge of crash causation and characteristics. Identify under-targeted
causes and under-supported countermeasures.
- Dimensions of Personal Risk. Validate and elucidate personal risk dimensions, and
design safety programs based on this understanding. Dimensions may include
performance vs. behavior and temporary states vs. enduring traits.
- Multi-Component Model of Fatigue’s
Role in CMV Crashes. Driver fatigue’s most obvious
crash causal role is seen when asleep-at-the-wheel is the Critical Reason
(proximal cause). The envisioned study would define, verify, and quantify
other crash causal mechanisms and scenarios traceable to fatigue.
- Isolate the Fatigue and Other
Driving Effects of Time Awake.
Time awake is well-established as an independent physiological factor in
alertness. Yet, in almost any CMV driver schedule, driving/work hours
co-vary with time awake to a high degree. The envisioned research would
differentiate the two types of temporal effects and their implications for
- Evaluate Driving Simulators
as a Testbed for CMV HOS Studies.
Driving simulators offer numerous advantages over real driving as research
testbeds; i.e., subject safety, scenario and test event standardization,
repeatability, and sophisticated measurement. A research question,
however, is whether subjects can sustain long, HOS-relevant hours driving
- RNS: Women Commercial Drivers
& Safety. Examine the safety and
operational performance of women commercial drivers with the potential
outcome of increasing their numbers.
- RNS: Improved Safety
Management for Prime Contractor & Subcontract Carriers. Analyzse and document safety challenges which might
exist in large transport operations making extensive use of subcontract
carriers and drivers. Identify and articulate effective safety management
practices for such organizations, both from the perspective of “parent”
companies and their small subcontractors.
- RNS: Case Studies of Carrier
Safety Advancement. Conduct in-depth case studies
of motor carriers which have progressively improved their safety programs.
Motivate and enable other carriers to undertake similar safety advancement
- RNS: Carrier Based Validation of
Driver Selection Tools.
Conduct carrier-based validation studies of various tests and measurements
used for driver selection and other assessments to improve driver
- Validation of Driver Analytic
Modeling. As part of the above project
or separately, validate analytic modeling of driver safety and retention
to prevent spurious inferences due to Type I errors (false positives
generated randomly by multiple post
hoc comparisons), regression to the mean, and similar pitfalls.
- Improving Carrier Risk
Management Practices. Identify means for motor carriers to
identify and understand their crash risks and available countermeasures in
areas beyond regulatory compliance.
- Crash Investigation and
Analysis for Carriers.
Identify and delineate effective carrier practices to investigate and
analyze their crashes, considering carriers’ multiple needs to learn from
their mistakes, reduce future risks, avoid undue liability and adverse
publicity, and treat crash-involved drivers fairly.
- Media for Communications with Small Carriers and
Drivers. Determine the best media and formats for messages regarding
safety information, including new regulations, enforcement, best
practices, and time-critical (e.g., traffic, weather, safety recalls)
- Ecodriving Pilot Tests and
Program Development in North America.
Ecodriving is a primarily
European initiative that promotes fuel economy and lower-risk driving.
There is a need for demonstration pilot tests and other activities to
develop and promote the concept in North American fleets.
- RNS: Measuring the Safety Effectiveness of Professional
Driver Training. Determine the effectiveness of pre-employment commercial
(truck and bus) driver training in increasing pro-safety behaviors and in
reducing collision and incident rates.
- International Review of CMV
Driver Training and Knowledge/Skill Requirements. Review regulatory requirements and industry best
practices in various developed nations (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Europe) to
identify possible models for improved training of commercial drivers in
- CMV Driver Advanced
Competency Training & Certification.
Identify training and performance criteria for “Master Driver” certification,
either by governments, carriers, or independent standards organizations.
Create recognized and standardized higher levels of driver competency
beyond the CDL.
- Cargo Securement Training
Needs Assessment and Training Development.
Analyze driver training needs associated with cargo securement for various
trailer and operations types, based on both regulations and “beyond
compliance” best practices. Design and develop needed training.
- Analyze CMV Driver Trainer
Competencies. Analyze competencies essential
for success as a CMV driver trainer. This would include generic training
competencies as well as those specific to CMV driving.
- Pre-Driver Training Candidate Screening Tool. Develop
and validate a self-test questionnaire to screen potential CMV drivers
prior to basic training, thereby reducing “wash outs.” The instrument
would likely address vocational interests, personality, values, and
behavioral history (e.g., past crashes/disqualifiers).
- Alternative Compliance Pilot
Test. Pilot test carrier safety
management strategies which improve upon, or in some cases supplant
certain traditional Commercial Vehicle Operations safety management
regulatory and compliance practices. Develop, evaluate and promote new
safety strategies, including technology applications, for appropriate
carriers using discrete incentives or inducements, such as tax credits or
exemptions relating to FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
system. The evaluation would involve both federal and state agencies and
would determine the effectiveness of alternative compliance concepts, and
the potential for expanding such concepts as a means to expand the reach
and coverage of enforcement efforts throughout the nation. It would
consider audit, documentation, or certification schemes to verify and
document best practices and safety outcomes. It would support FMCSA’s
planned Beyond Compliance
initiate to recognize non-mandatory carrier safety initiatives.
Vehicle Design & Technology:
- RNS: Technical Characteristics of
Paratransit Buses Currently Built In The U.S.
Develop a database with technical information on the construction,
fueling, safety, passenger securement and durability of current
paratransit buses built in the U.S.
- RNS: Crash Harm per Freight Ton-Mile
for Different Large Truck Configurations.
Determine which large truck transport vehicles (and specifically which
sizes) provide the greatest freight haulage while resulting in the least
- RNS: Indirect Visibility Systems
(IVSs) on Buses. Conduct literature review and
focus groups to identify potential indirect visibility system
configurations for certain bus types to improve visibility, increase
driver situation awareness, and reduce crashes.
- Pilot Test of Truck
Platooning. Conduct a pilot test to
determine the safety and fuel efficiency benefits of truck platooning
employing vehicle-to-vehicle communications and synchronized braking and
- Assess Foundation Brake Performance Monitoring Systems.
Examine and test existing monitoring systems for foundation brakes
(particularly drum brakes), such as systems that can detect failures
and/or excessive wear and alert the driver through electronic systems.
Roadway Design & Operations:
- Safety Effects of
Differential Speed Limits. Resolve
the long-debated question of whether differential highway speed limits for
trucks and light vehicles contributes to safety, or degrades it.
- Safety Ramifications of Small
Motorcoaches. Assess occupant protection
and other safety concerns regarding the use of smaller capacity
- Safety Evaluations of
Dedicated CMV Lanes. Pilot test bus and truck
dedicated lane and traffic light prioritization schemes with potential
safety benefits for CMVs and motor vehicles in general.