7. SAFETY BENEFITS ASSESSMENT
The Safety Benefits Assessment framework for the FOT provided for the functional testing of
13 separate technology combinations across four load types. As described in Volume III,
Section 1: HAZMAT FOT Overview, these technologies were designed to enable real-time
communications and information exchange between drivers, dispatchers and other
authorized parties; track assets; secure vehicles, loads and shipping documentation; and
enable driver or automated exception alerts in response to crisis or deviations in operational
characteristics outside of set parameters. The majority of technologies themselves and their
usage are not specifically established to provide explicit or traditional safety benefits (i.e.,
reducing the frequency and severity of crashes). For example, the test technologies are not
designed to warn drivers of obstacles in proximity to their vehicles, lane departure, imminent
vehicle rollover conditions, or conditions signaling driver fatigue.
This notwithstanding, frequent driver/dispatcher communications allowing the dispatcher to
assess the driver's condition and position tracking to assess possible driver speeding may
equate to potential reductions in crashes. Additionally, a potential reduction in miles driven
via tighter management of fleet operations enabled by Wireless Communications and GPS
asset tracking capabilities may, be equated to reduced exposure to crashes.
The participating motor carriers and enforcement personnel have also described potential
post-incident safety benefits by using several of the test technologies. Using Wireless
Communications with GPS positioning, panic alert capabilities, and real-time information
exchange with enforcement and response agencies can provide more immediate incidentalert
notification; detect vehicle location; and identify the quantity and type of HAZMAT load
on the distressed truck.
The benefits focus on the ability to more rapidly detect and respond to an incident with the
most appropriate mitigating resources to a HAZMAT incident in a more timely and complete
manner. Though mostly anecdotal in description, these benefits are considered realizable by
HAZMAT stakeholders. It should be noted that six of the nine participating motor carriers
either agree or strongly agree that the test technologies provide enhanced functionality for
The following analyses provides a high-level framework in which to assess the potential
benefits of reduced crash exposure and improved response and treatment of truck-based
HAZMAT incidents through the use of the test technologies.
The starting point for the analyses is a listing of relavent facts:
Total Cost of HAZMAT truck crashes: $842 million per year.21
The four load types considered in the FOT represent 67 percent of the recorded load types for trucks involved in fatal and non-fatal crashes in 2002.22
7.1 MOTOR CARRIER EXPOSURE TO CRASH ANALYSIS
In terms of reduced exposure to crashes, the test participants indicated a minimum reduction in out-of-route and empty miles of 1 percent through the use of Wireless Communications
and GPS positioning. Depending on industry segment, this is a conservative reduction in non-revenue miles. Assuming this reduction of 1 percent represents a 1 percent in
reduction in total miles traveled by carriers hauling HAZMAT, then the benefit
achievable (through full deployment) by reducing on-the-road exposure to crashes is
$842 million per year (Total Cost of HAZMAT truck crashes) x
1% (fewer miles/less exposure) x 67% of Crashes involving the FOT Load Types
= $5 million in annual crash avoidance benefits
7.2 ENHANCED HAZMAT INCIDENCE RESPONSE BENEFITS
As previously discussed, rapid notification of HAZMAT incidents with details of incident
location and load type and quantity to motor carriers and emergency response organizations
is widely considered necessary to maximizing the effectiveness of incident response and
reduce the impacts of incidents. Difficulty in quantifying the potential benefits of the test
technologies (focus being on the Public Sector Reporting Center [Psrc] concept, described
in greater detail in Section 9 of this synthesis document) is due to all incidents being unique
with regard to the following elements:
Severity of event.
Whether or not HAZMAT has been released.
HAZMAT type and quantity involved in the incident.
Time of day.
Level of traffic on the route.
Existing levels of roadway surveillance, agency communications capabilities.
Availability of response resources with close proximity.
Overall ability to coordinate the resources.
These factors make quantifying potential benefits of more rapid or appropriate response
difficult at best. In other words, "No consistent standard has been identified that can be
uniformly applied to evaluate the quantifiable benefits of an effective incident management
This notwithstanding, safety benefits described extensively in the literature and by the FOT
participants that can be achieved through improved incident response and treatment (that
could be enhanced by the test technologies) include:
Increased survival rate of crash victims.
Reduced environmental mitigation costs and potential exposure of citizens to HAZMAT releases.
Reduced incident-related congestion and hence, reduced occurrence of secondary accidents.
Though tested on a limited basis as a "proof of concept", the Psrc concept demonstrated a
maximum of 2 minutes for a panic alert to be routed to law enforcement through the Psrc.
As a comparison to the status quo, the Center for Technology Commercialization's "best
estimate" of average notification time for state police response to a HAZMAT spill is 20
minutes, representing an 18-minute improvement in notification time.
In terms of human life, emergency responders are well aware of the "golden hour." This
refers to the chances for survival for a trauma victim being significantly greater if they receive
emergency medical care within 1 hour of injury. In this context, the 18-minute decrease in
notification time, assuming the driver was capable of triggering the panic alert, could
potentially mean the difference between life and death for crash victims.
Additionally, the Psrc concept enables response organizations to know the location of the
incident and rapidly access details on the type and quantity of HAZMAT involved in the
incident to enhance response time and bring to bear appropriate mitigating resources, thus
reducing the potential diliterious effects of a spill and reducing clearance time resulting in
reduced congestion and potential occurance of secondary incidents.
7.3 SAFETY BENEFITS ASSESSMENT FINDINGS
The technical performance of the technologies within the framework of the FOT
demonstrated enhanced ability to monitor drivers and vehicles and provide notification of
emergencies with location and load characteristics in a more timely manner and potentially
detailed manner than traditional methods. Though hard evidence is scarce, qualitative
opinion indicates that the technical capabilities of the test technologies, coupled with best
practices in motor carrier driver/safety management and public sector incident response,
show promise for enhancing the safety of truck-based HAZMAT shipments.
Through the use of proxies, potential benefits in terms of crash avoidance were estimated to
be $5 million annually. No monetized benefit estimates for enhanced emergency response
21 FMCSA Analysis Division, Large Truck Crash Facts - 2002, 2001, 2000. Some estimates place this value as high as $1.1 billion per year. For the sake of conservatism, the lower number is used in calculation.
23 Kansas Department of Transportation, Incident Management Program Background, Spring 2002.
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