Improving CMV Safety on Rural Roads in Texas

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Texas is among the top states for fatal crashes involving trucks. Over 50 percent of Texas truck vehicle miles traveled are on rural roadways. This is a concern given that crashes on rural roadways are nearly three times as likely to be fatal compared to urban roads.  

Key Takeaways:

  1. Truck tractor and heavy truck/pick-up crashes are more severe in rural Texas. In general, crash severity decreases going from rural to fringe to urban areas. 
  2. On rural roadways, speeding and distraction were the top contributing factors to truck tractor and heavy truck/pick-up crashes in rural areas. 
  3. The roadway segment visualizations can support targeted enforcement and driver/fleet operator route planning. 

Our Approach:

This project involved an in-depth analysis of Texas crash records from 2014 to 2018 (n=121,186 crashes involving truck tractors; n=44,158 crashes involving heavy trucks/pickups; n=2,252,889 crashes involving passenger vehicles). The data analysis involved developing a refined approach for identifying crashes in rural versus urban and fringe areas and a method for classifying truck tractors versus other large trucks and heavy pick-ups by using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s VIN Decoder. Data was also analyzed by the Texas Department of Public Safety Region. Finally, a variety of statistical approaches were used including the construction of crash severity models and identifying and visualizing rural roadway segments that are prone to crashes involving truck tractors and heavy trucks and pickups using a proactive rather than reactive approach.  


The proportion of crashes involving truck tractors and heavy trucks/pick-ups that are severe varies by area type along a continuum from urban (2 percent) to fringe (6 percent) to rural (10 percent). Speeding and distraction were the most common contributing factors in rural and fringe areas across all crash severities for truck tractors and heavy trucks/pick-ups. Crash severity is also different by Department of Public Safety region. In rural areas, there were several roadway segments that had characteristics that suggested they were at a higher-than-expected crash risk.  

To address large truck tractor and heavy truck/pick-up crashes on rural roadways in Texas, this project involved developing data-driven tools for drivers/fleet operators and law enforcement officers. These tools include information on risk factors for higher-severity crashes, an interactive data dashboard, and visualizations designed to identify rural roadways that are more prone to crashes involving trucks. 

View our Tool for Identifying Rural Roadways with High Potential for Truck Crashes. 

For more information on this project, please contact: 

Eva Shipp 
Senior Research Scientist
(979) 317-2508 
[email protected]

Project Title: FMCSA – Improving CMV Safety on Rural Roads in Texas
Project Start and End Dates: October 2019 – September 2022
Author List: Eva Shipp, Dennis Perkinson, Emily Martin, Marcie Perez, Srinivas Geedipally, Lingtao Wu, and Robert Wunderlich
Sponsor/Funding Source: FMCSA