Truck Accidents
Accidents involving these large vehicles can be devastating, and by the year 2030, it is estimated that these accidents will be the fifth leading cause of death in the US. That’s why it’s more important now than ever before to be aware of the factors that increase your risk of being in a truck accident in the United States.

Statistics change all the time. These statistics are the latest available, and they include data from many types of trucks carrying differing cargo loads. Hopefully, these numbers will help you stay safe on the road alongside these powerful vehicles.

Truck-Related Accidents are Happening More Often

Although the overall number of motor vehicle accidents has decreased by 2% in recent years, truck accidents have increased. Most notably, trucks weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds had the largest spike in recorded truck accidents.

Truck-Related Fatalities are Increasing in Number

Since 2009, the number of people who die in accidents involving a commercial truck has increased by 52%, going from 3,147 that year to 4,102 casualties, according to the most recent data. Tractor-trailers weighing more than 26,000 pounds have exhibited an increase in accident fatality rate by almost 6%.

However, the Fatality Rate of Truck Accidents is Ultimately Decreasing

The fatality rate for truck collisions is measured by the number of deaths per truck mile driven. Though the statistics show a numerical increase in truck accident casualties, this rate shows fewer deaths happening per mile.

Since this data started being collected in the 1970s, this rate has steadily lowered from approximately 1 truck occupant death and 30 passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 89 truck miles to about 1 truck occupant death and 6 passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 435 truck miles travelled.

A Majority of Fatal Truck Accidents Involve Another Vehicle

The moment a commercial truck collides with another vehicle, there is a 74% chance that it will be fatal to one of the vehicle’s occupants. If someone is injured in this collision, there is an 81% chance the injury will prove to be fatal.

The Top Causes of Truck Accidents May Surprise You

While many may believe that drivers using drugs or alcohol is the top cause of truck collisions, this is not even close to the truth. In fact, less than .5% of truck accidents are caused by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The FMCSA conducted a causation study that found the largest contributing factor to truck accidents is mechanical defects in vital vehicle systems, such as the brakes, steering wheel, and tires.

Other leading causes include driver fatigue and confusion about a new route. Heavier vehicles are also more likely to be involved in an accident because they need more time to slow down or stop. The average stopping distance for a commercial tractor-trailer is about 525 feet, whereas a lighter passenger vehicle may only need 300 feet. Trucks can weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds; the more weight a truck has, the longer its stopping distance.

Nearly All People Who Die in Truck Accidents are Passenger Vehicle Occupants

Passenger vehicles include cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans. 97% of people who die in collisions involving a large truck were occupants of a passenger vehicle. This makes sense, due to the overwhelming size of commercial trucks compared to the majority of passenger vehicles.

Work Zone Truck Accidents are Increasing in Frequency

Case reports show a recent increase in work zone accidents involving one or more large trucks. These accidents were responsible for 12% of the injuries and 30% of the fatal collisions that occurred in work zones. This is a slight increase from 2013 when the rate of fatal crashes involving large trucks was 28%. 

Truck Accidents are Most Common on Major Roads, Not Highways

More than half of truck-related collisions happen on major roads, whereas 32% happen on highways. This may seem counterintuitive, as vehicles going faster seem to have a higher likelihood of crashing. But the data show that major roads are the site of most truck accidents by a thin majority. 

Most Truck Accidents Happen Between 12 PM and 3 PM

There is a natural dip in everybody’s energy once a day, which usually happens around 7 hours after you wake up. With that knowledge in mind, it makes sense that the noon to 3 PM timeframe is when up to 19% of all truck crashes happen. 

Truck Accidents are Most Common on Thursdays

Beware driving around large trucks on Thursdays, as this day has 18% of all truck-related crashes. Mondays and Wednesdays combined with Thursdays make up more than half of truck accidents. 

Truck Accidents are Most Rare on the Weekends

If you’re looking for the time with the least risk of a truck accident, the weekend is it. 16% of large truck crashes happen on Saturday and Sunday, but more than twice that percentage of passenger vehicle accidents happen on the weekend. To break it down further, Sunday has fewer accidents than Saturday.

While Truck Accidents Aren’t Always Deadly, They Are Still Devastating

Not all truck-related collisions result in a fatality. However, they can still be very dangerous and cause a lot of serious injuries to vehicle occupants. These are most often broken bones, soft tissue and organ damage, and neck and spinal cord injuries. Burns are also common injuries, as many accidents can result in fires or explosions.

Additionally, major accidents cause psychological trauma that can have lasting effects long after the physical damage has healed.

Regulations are Being Enforced to Reduce Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been enforcing regulations aimed at reducing the risk of truck driver fatigue, which is a leading cause of accidents. Under these guidelines, drivers can legally spend no more than 14 hours behind the wheel and are required to take rests during the drive if the driver did not have at least 8 hours off between hauls. Estimates put the number of lives saved by these regulations at approximately 7,000.

Before giving a report or filing a claim after an accident, speak to an attorney. Baumgartner Law Firm specializes in truck accidents and could help you settle your claim.