Home 24 Chilling Truck Accident Statistics

24 Chilling Truck Accident Statistics

by Tony Arevalo

During the last couple of years, truck accident statistics have reported tens of thousands of accidents occurring throughout the world. Their prevalence seems to be highest in regions with excellent infrastructure, given the fact that trucks are used more in those areas. 

Trucks are marvelous yet incredibly dangerous machines. They are harder to maneuver through tight sticks, while handling is more rigid. Also, braking to a full-stop is bound to take considerably longer. On the other hand, trucks are huge in terms of size and weight. Therefore, their impact is considerably stronger when compared to general automobiles.

The truck accidents outlined in this article serve the purpose of painting a clearer picture of how common these occurrences are, what causes these accidents, where most of them happen, and whether trucks represent a real danger to the world’s roads. 

We will also share some statistics concerning truck crash-related deaths, alongside several facts regarding the cars versus trucks in terms of overall accidents.

Five Must-Know Facts about Truck Accidents

  • 500,000 truck-related accidents occur yearly in the United States. Worldwide, millions of crashes involving trucks are reported. 
  • During 2017, 4,889 large trucks were crashed in accidents that have also resulted in fatalities.
  • Between 2009 and 2017, the number of trucks and buses that have been involved in fatal accidents has increased by 42%.
  • Research has shown that 68% of fatal truck-related accidents take place in rural areas, on interstate roads, and highways.
  • In 2017, truck-related accidents were responsible for 11% of roadside fatalities in the United States.

Big Trucks Wrecks Are on the Rise

  • Recent trends indicate that accidents are on the rise since the FMCSA has reported a 9% increase in 2017 compared to 2016.

As such, this statistic refers to the number of large trucks and buses that have been involved in fatal accidents on US roads. Based on this, we can note a 9% increase in the number of crashes causing fatalities. As we will see later on in the article, this trend seems to be increasing, according to truck accident statistics in the US. 

Source: FMCSA

The Number of Deaths in Crashes Involving Large TrucksSource: NHTSA

  • During 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were crashed in accidents that also resulted in fatalities.

It is important to keep in mind that this number also includes buses, since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has conducted the research study that involved those vehicles too. However, we know that truck crashes are considerably more prevalent when compared to bus crashes. 

On the other hand, bus crashes generally lead to higher rates of severe injuries and deaths, given the fact that they are also transporting other people. In contrast, trucks generally transport only the driver, according to truck accident statistics. 

Source: FMCSA

  • Between 2009 and 2017, the number of trucks and buses that have been involved in fatal accidents has increased by 42%.

In regards to this stat, it is important to remember that 2009 was the year with the least truck and bus accidents in the United States. Therefore, when judging by this trend alone, we see a huge spike in the number of truck crash fatalities. 

Source: FMCSA

  • In the United States, the highest number of fatal crashes involving trucks was recorded in 2005.

During 2005, estimates published by the FMCSA highlight a total of 5,231 trucking and bus accidents resulting in fatalities. Luckily, the numbers have decreased since then. However, they still remain high, thus showcasing that additional effort is required to reduce the number of truck accidents.

Source: FMCSA

  • To put these trends better into perspective, an FMCSA study has showcased that the number of truck crashes leading to fatalities has increased by 40% between 2009 and 2017.

Because of this statistic, local government bodies in the United States have once again begun working on policies meant to help curb these rates. Currently, it is too early to determine whether the efforts are positively influencing the incidence of big truck crashes.

Source: FMCSA

  • Between 2016 and 2017, the rate of trucks involved in accidents increased by roughly 6%, meaning that at this time, 1.56 trucks are caught in a fatal accident for every 100 million miles traveled across US roads.

This trend represents a danger to both truckers and other road users, including buses, private cars, and fleet vehicles. Truckers are quickly gaining more awareness of this issue, and thus are trying their best to be more careful while driving, as reported by truck accident stats. 

Source: FMCSA

  • However, trucks aren’t involved in fatal accidents only. As such, research indicates that the number of crashes resulting in injuries has increased by 62% between 2009 and 2015.

These interesting trends lead us to wonder about the reasons responsible for these accidents. Common logic would report that there are considerably more vehicles on the road. Thus, accidents are bound to happen more often. On the other hand, numerous truckers choose to drive with high levels of fatigue, thus decreasing their concentration and leading to a higher number of big truck accidents. 

As such, studies indicate that 107,000 crashes leading to injury have occurred during 2017. 

Source: FMCSA

  • Between 2017 and 2018, 3% more trucks were involved in accidents leading to property damage only.

While the spike doesn’t seem as much, it is important to highlight the fact that 363,000 truck-related property damage accidents occurred in 2017. Cost estimates of these property damages have not been published.

Source: FMCSA

What Causes So Many Truck Crashes?

  • Research published by the World Health Organization indicates that road accidents are bound to become the fifth leading cause of death in the United States by 2030.

As it has been outlined above, many of these crashes actually involve trucks. Thus, they are more likely to end fatally or with a severe injury. Based on this, it is essential for US authorities to figure out strategies meant to reduce this number.

Source: World Health Organization

  • Truck Accident Attorney Network has used data to compile a list outlining the main causes for semi accidents.

Based on this, we can report that critical driver error represents the main cause for most of these crashes. Accidents caused by this factor generally involves failure to adapt the speed to the road conditions, being unfamiliar with the road, fatigue, illegal maneuvers, distractions, OTC drug use, inadequate surveillance of the surroundings and nearby traffic, etc. 

While truck drivers are considered professionals in their field of work, mistakes happen. Therefore, it is essential for drivers to continue their education to remain aware of common mistakes and roadside dangers. Doing this will lead to considerably fewer truck driver accidents. 

Source: Truck Accident Attorney Network

  • The same statistic outlines that the second reason for truck crashes is directly linked to critical vehicle error.

With this in mind, the main malfunction that’s responsible for a large number of US-based truck-related accidents is brake failure. Other prevalent issues include, but are not limited to, tire blowouts. 

Based on this, vehicle manufacturers should pay close attention to ensure that the braking systems are suitable for long-term use. Similarly, truck drivers and mechanics need to conduct constant checks to reduce semi trucks crashes generated by mechanical failure. 

Source: Truck Accident Attorney Network

  • One-third of accidents are related to environmental causes.

Based on this, numerous truck drivers report environmental conditions as the cause of an accident. This makes sense, given the fact that fog can reduce visibility, whereas snow can reduce traction. 

Other environmental causes are attributed to highway causes (such as proper signaling and quality of the pavement), or traffic-related causes, as semi truck crash statistics report.

A cause that deserves more attention is that of driver fatigue and failure to respect resting guidelines. Throughout the world, trucks and other commercial vehicles are fitted with specialized equipment meant to track the hours spent driving. The purpose of this hardware is to avoid driver fatigue. 

More checks are required to ensure that truckers are indeed respecting these guidelines and not putting their lives at risk for profit purposes. Shipping companies are also known to threaten drivers to reach their destination within specific periods of time that do not allow for sufficient rest. 

Source: Truck Accident Attorney Network

Where and When Do the Majority of Trucking Accidents Happen?

  • Research has shown that 68% of fatal truck-related accidents take place in rural areas.

The main reason behind this claim is the fact that in urban areas, drivers are bound to be more attentive at traffic conditions. On the other hand, rural areas and long roads provide the false sentiment of safety, thus leading to distractions and more lax driving. 

Additionally, most crashes tend to occur on major roads, such as interstates and freeways.

Source: Legal Info

  • Similarly, most truck-related accidents occur during the day, rather than during the night-time.

This statistic is certainly interesting, considering the fact that most people believe driving at night is more dangerous when compared to daytime driving. The truth is that, for truckers, driving at night is a more pleasant experience, given the low number of cars on the road. 

As such, reports indicate that 66% of fatal big truck crash occurrences take place during the day. Weekends also seem to attract more crashes. For instance, 2003 reports indicate that 78% of truck crashes happened during Saturday or Sunday. 

Additionally, it is also worth mentioning that in the US, most accidents took place between 06:00 and 15:00. 

Source: Legal Info

  • From a worldwide perspective, most truck crashes take place in the United States, Russia, and Mexico.

This statistic is based on data that is actively reported by most of the world’s countries. The reasons why certain countries are more prone to big truck accidents include a higher density of cars, dangerous and winding roads, unkempt highways, lax regulations for drivers, and more.

Source: Truckers Training 

  • In the United States, reports indicate that most crashes involving trucks take place in Texas.

It’s important to realize the extent of this trend in Texas. Reports indicate that the rate of truck-related accidents in this state is 137% higher when compared to California, which is its closest competitor. 

To further highlight this trend, the rate of crashes involving trucks in Texas is 31.5% higher than the one present in North Dakota. Similarly, in Texas, 18 wheelers crashes account for up to 7% of fatal accidents that occur in this county. Trends have varied within the last couple of years, yet the rate has remained high. 

Based on this, it is essential for authorities to do their best to ensure that both truck and car drivers are educated in terms of defensive driving techniques. Similarly, authorities must make sure that the legislation regarding fatigued driving is respected.

Source: ZDfirm

Deaths in Big Truck Crashes

  • Statistics indicate that 4,102 people have perished as a result of truck-related accidents during 2017.

Based on this, it is also important to mention that 17% of these deaths are attributed to the truck occupants (such as drivers), whereas 68% are attributed to the drivers and passengers of cars. 

Lastly, 14% of the deaths are attributed to three categories – motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Based on this, we can conclude that the greatest risk factor is attributed to the occupants of passenger cars driving on the roads, rather than pedestrians or truck drivers. 

This makes sense, given the fact that in case of an impact, the highest degree of force is applied to the car that’s hit, as it has been concluded after studying numerous semi truck accidents.

Source: NHTSA

  • In 2017, 97% of passenger vehicle occupants died following a truck-car fatal accident.

On the other hand, only 3% of truck drivers died after accidents of this type. Based on this, we can conclude that trucks are built to be as solid as possible, and no passenger vehicle is capable of safely sustaining a multi-ton impact, as it has been proven by most semi truck accident statistics.

Source: IIHS

  • In 2017, truck-related accidents were responsible for 11% of roadside fatalities in the United States.

This statistic once again proves the danger posed by semi trucks on public roads. However, research has also shown that it isn’t actually the truck which is often directly responsible for the accident. With this in mind, numerous drivers forget that visibility is greatly reduced for truck drivers, and that smart defensive driving techniques should be applied when driving around trucks. 

For instance, car owners must make sure they don’t spend more than a few seconds in the blind spot of a truck driver. Failure to do so increases the risk of being involved in a big rig accident. 

Source: IIHS

  • Alcohol-impaired driving is rarely a cause for truck-related roadside fatalities since only 4% of killed drivers had a blood alcohol content above the 0.08% threshold.

This stat goes on to bust the misconception that truck drivers consume alcohol to keep themselves busy while on the road. While it does happen, the occurrence rate is fairly low. However, the dangers are real, and no truck driver should ever consider driving after consuming alcohol. 

Source: IIHS

Truck Accidents vs. Car Accidents

  • In 2017, 17% of fatal truck crashes were part of single-vehicle accidents, whereas the same can be said about 37% of passenger cars.

With this in mind, the likelihood of being involved in a fatal single-car accident is considerably higher in the case of passenger vehicles, when compared to trucks.  However, the chances of surviving an impact with a truck are considerably lower, as outlined in numerous commercial truck accident statistics.

Source: IIHS

  • Roughly 500,000 accidents implicating trucks occur yearly in the United States, as compared to 6 million accidents involving passenger cars.

Despite the huge difference in crash numbers, it is important to remember that both types of vehicles are responsible for tens of thousands of yearly deaths. However, truck-related accidents are bound to be deadlier than car accidents. This statistic also includes tractor trailers crashes. 

Source: Driver Knowledge 

  • Reports indicate that 51% of perished truck drivers were wearing their seatbelt at the time of impact, as compared to 49% of passenger car drivers.

This statistic showcases that despite numerous educational efforts, seatbelt use in the United States is still fairly low. It is essential for drivers throughout the world to be aware of the benefits associated with wearing a seatbelt and the fact that it can make the difference between life and death, as reported by truck driver accident statistics.

Source: IIHS

  • In 2017, roughly 40,000 people died as a result of a car crash in the US, compared to 4,761 people who died in trucking accidents.

Based on this, we can assume that driving a truck is theoretically safer when compared to driving a passenger vehicle. Despite this aspect, deaths remain fairly common for both categories. For instance, tractor trailer wrecks also claim a significant number of lives yearly, as it has been outlined in a series of statistical studies. 

Similarly, crashes involving one, two, or more passenger vehicles are usually less violent when compared to trucking incidents, given the considerable difference in terms of vehicle velocity, size, and general mass. 

As a general tip, it is best to exercise extra care regardless of the vehicle’s type. One should always refrain from staying too long near trucks, especially while being in their blind spots.

Source: USA Today

Bottom Line

Based on everything that has been outlined so far, we can conclude that semi truck crash events represent a worrying concern for public roads throughout the world. Thousands of people perish yearly because of such events, whereas tens of thousands are injured. 

Similarly, millions of dollars worth of property damage must be reimbursed by vehicle insurance companies, thus explaining why insurance is generally pricey for trucks. 

Trends also indicate an increase in the prevalence of wrecks trucks and related accidents within the past few years. These accidents are bound to happen in the future as well, but smarter policies and verification mechanisms have the potential of drastically reducing occurrence rates. 

However, the weakest link in the chain is directly related to drivers’ education. Efforts should be undertaken to ensure that all road users are aware of defensive driving techniques to help reduce the prevalence of big trucks crash with other cars. 

Last but not least, we hope that the facts and statistics presented here will help encourage policy updates and increase awareness for all types of drivers. Failure to consider personal safety alongside the safety of others is bound to lead to constant growth in the fatality trend, as the density of cars on the roads continues to increase. 

Our truck accident statistics article has hopefully served in highlighting the main causes associated with these accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many traffic fatalities involve a big rig or a large truck?

Approximately 4,102 people have died in a crash involving a large truck in the US during 2017. On the other hand, 39,888 people died in car crashes, thus showcasing that the rate of traffic fatalities involving large trucks is fairly low.  

2. How many accidents are caused by semi trucks?

Reports indicate that out of the 500,000 yearly semi accidents, only a few are caused by semi trucks. Generally, it is drivers of passenger cars who engage in non-safe maneuvers that cause these crashes.

3. What percentage of truck accidents are caused by cars?

A report issued by the ATA claims that 80% of crashes between cars and trucks are caused by passenger car drivers, rather than trucks.

4. How many truck accidents happen annually?

Around 500,000 truck-related accidents happen in the United States on a yearly basis. From a worldwide perspective, the number is in the millions. This also includes tractor trailer wrecks.

5. What percent of backing up accidents involve large trucks?

Backing up while driving a truck is hard work, given the huge size and weight of the vehicle. Despite this aspect, very few backing up accidents actually involve large trucks, as truck drivers have finalized numerous training exercises meant to sharpen their skills.

6. What causes most truck accidents?

Most truck accidents are caused by critical driver error, such as failure to respect the speed limit, improper surveillance of the surroundings, distracted driving, fatigue (mostly caused by an unwillingness to respect rest time regulations), alongside traffic conditions and mechanical failures.

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