The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released findings from the first phase of a three-part research effort aimed at helping reduce large truck rollovers – establishing database that identifies rollover “hot spots” across 31 states.

Rebecca Brewster, ATRI’s president and COO, told Fleet Owner that the second phase of the project aims to notify drivers and fleets through educational outreach about the existence of these rollover “hot spots,” with the third phase seeking ways to lower the risk of rollover crashes at the specific locations noted in the report via signage, reduced speeds, even changes to roadway infrastructure.

“One of the issues we’ve had compiling this study – and it plagues all transportation researchers – is the variability in crash data from state to state,” she explained. “We actually received rollover crash data from 38 states, but found some of it just wasn’t usable, so we just used the information from 31 of them.”

ATRI spent just under two years analyzing over 50,000 crash records from a nine-year period to mark the locations where the highest frequency of rollovers occurred, then crafted an online map with it to help drivers and fleets alike identify them on a state by state basis.

The problem with the crash data collected so far is that it doesn’t always provide a clear-cut reason for the rollover, Brewster noted. For instance, did the rollover occur due to an equipment failure? Actions on the part of the drivers involved in the crash? Or did poor signage and/or the curvature of the roadway play a role?

“As we continue to drill down into the crash data we’ve collected, we’ll be looking more closely at those ‘causation’ factors,” Brewster pointed out. “Maybe better signs can help alleviate the problem. Or maybe it’s an issue where the speed limit for cars is inappropriate for an 80,000 pound commercial vehicle. Those are the kinds of details we’ll examine.”

Eventually, ATRI wants to make its “rollover location” data available in real-time via driver information centers, so vehicle operators can be warned when they are approaching a stretch of road or intersection where a high number of truck rollover occur. “Also, our rollover crash collection effort will be ongoing as well,” she stressed. “This is going to be a moving target for us.”