During the last couple of years, truck accident statistics have reported tens of thousands of accidents occurring worldwide. Their prevalence seems to be highest in regions with excellent infrastructure, given that trucks are used more in those areas.
The 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.
Must-Know Truck Driver Accident Statistics (Editor’s Pick)
- In 2019, there were 7,000 more large truck crashes than the previous year
- In 2020, there were 110 fewer large truck deaths than in 2019
- Tire defects are responsible for almost a third of all truck-related crashes
- Every year, sleep deprivation causes 100,000 truck crashes
- Over 55% of fatal truck-related accidents took place in rural areas in 2019
- In the US, Texas had the highest number of truck accidents fatalities (658) in 2019
- Based on some preliminary estimates for 2020, there were 4,895 large truck fatalities
- In 2019, large trucks accounted for 9.8% of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents
Big Truck Accidents by Year
1. Between 2009 and 2019, 2018 saw the highest number of fatal crashes involving trucks in the US.
That year, the number of such fatalities was around 4,164. Furthermore, the next year with the highest number of large truck fatalities in the US in the same period was 2019, with 4,119.
We have yet to see the official data and semi-truck accident statistics from 2020 and 2021.
2. In 2019, there was a 5% increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes compared to 2018.
For instance, 151,000 people suffered injuries caused by large truck accidents in 2018, and in 2019, that number was 159,000.
More specifically, among the injured people in 2019, 69% were occupants of other vehicles, 29% were occupants of large trucks, and 3% were nonoccupants.
3. Truck accident statistics from 2019 show an increase of 7,000 large truck accidents compared to the year before.
In other words, there were somewhere around 538,000 large truck crashes reported to the police in 2019 in the United States. Then again, the number of large truck accidents reported to the police in 2018 was approximately 531,000.
4. According to truck accident statistics from 2020, there were 110 fewer large truck fatalities than in 2019.
Namely, as per preliminary estimates, there were 4,895 large truck fatalities in 2020. In comparison, 2019 saw approximately 5,005 such fatalities. So, that translates to a decrease of around 2% in the number of fatalities involving large trucks between these two years.
What Causes So Many Trucks Accidents?
5. Tire defects cause 30% of all truck-related crashes.
According to the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, mechanical defects, fatigue, and new tour routes are the most common causes of these crashes. That is to say; tire defects cause about a third of all vehicle accidents.
6. Aggressive driving is responsible for 5% of truck accidents, as per truck accident statistics.
(Herc Rentals, Fleet Complete)
The term “aggressive driving” refers to the operation of motor vehicles in a way that endangers or has a likelihood of endangering people or property. Overall, 80% of drivers experience road rage.
Namely, that includes swerving, hard braking, speeding, tailgating, displaying anger, lane blocking, or honking unnecessarily.
7. Sleep deprivation causes 100,000 truck crashes per year.
(Raynes & Lawn)
Another cause of truck crashes is sleep deprivation. As a matter of fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) truck driver injury statistics, drowsy drivers are accountable for around 40,000 crash-related injuries and 1,500 fatalities.
8. Cars are responsible for 80% of truck accidents.
(Tempa Bay Newswire)
Cars cause these accidents due to improperly merging into traffic, making left turns in front of trucks, and pulling in front of trucks in intersections.
However, the most common cause is misunderstanding the abilities of a truck’s performance, like being unaware of limits on how trucks accelerate and the driver’s visibility.
Where and When Do the Majority of Truck Driver Accidents Happen?
9. In 2019, 57% of fatal truck-related accidents took place in rural areas.
The main reason behind this claim is the fact that in urban areas, drivers are bound to be more attentive to traffic conditions. On the other hand, rural areas and long roads provide the false sentiment of safety, thus leading to distractions and more negligent driving.
Let’s not forget that over 1,000 people end up injured every day because of distracted driving crashes.
10. The state with the highest number of truck accidents fatalities (658) in 2019 was Texas.
So, as 18 wheeler accidents statistics show, these accidents account for somewhere around 12.6% of all accidents that occur in Texas.
Based on this, authorities need to do their best to ensure that both truck and car drivers get the proper education on defensive driving techniques. Similarly, authorities must ensure that drivers respect the legislation regarding fatigued driving.
11. Most fatal truck-related accidents (64%) occurred during the day in 2019.
This is one of the commercial truck accident statistics for 2019, which 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.
12. In 2019, most (456) fatal large truck accidents happened in September.
Fatal truck accidents happen throughout the whole year. However, some months see more of these fatalities. After September, the following months with the highest number of fatal large truck accidents were October (432) and July (410). Regarding cars, August has the highest number of traffic fatalities overall.
On the other side of the spectrum, the fewest truck crashes occurred in February (297). The explanation is simple – bad weather keeps people in their homes and discourages driving. Fewer cars on the street mean fewer truck accidents.
Fatal Truck Accident Statistics
13. A crash between a semi-truck and another vehicle causing injuries or fatalities happens every 15 minutes.
These days, such accidents are increasingly frequent since tractor-trailers distribute most of our services and goods.
On top of that, many passenger vehicle drivers don’t completely understand the idea of how to share the road with larger vehicles, so they have higher chances of being severely injured in a crash.
14. According to preliminary estimates for 2020, there were around 4,895 large truck fatalities.
Generally speaking, drinking and driving, failure to wear a seat belt, and speeding were contributing factors to the rise in these fatalities.
Moreover, commercial truck accident statistics from 2020 show that during the COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns, drivers of these vehicles showed riskier behavior on the roads.
15. In 2019, nearly 20% of large truck drivers involved in fatal accidents had had at least one speeding conviction.
That said, the percentage of large truck drivers with such convictions who were involved in fatal crashes was higher than passenger car drivers (18.8%) in 2019, as truck driver accident statistics point out.
Moreover, 22.9% of the large truck drivers that year had had crashes before.
16. Pickup trucks have 2.5 times higher chances than minivans or cars to have a crash fatal for the car or minivan driver.
The statistic mentioned above results from a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
In fact, pickup truck vs. car accident statistics show that a car driver deaths rate is 23% higher in accidents with light pickups between 3,500–4,000 pounds than in those involving cars of similar weight.
17. Large trucks accounted for 9.8% of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents in 2019.
However, the percentage of large trucks involved in deadly accidents ranged between states. That is to say, semi-truck accidents statistics show that these accidents represented 2% in Hawaii and around 25% in Wyoming.
Believe it or not, there weren’t any large truck fatalities in the District of Columbia.
18. In 2019, there were 13.65 deadly large truck accidents per million US residents.
That represented a 29% increase from 2010 when there were 10.6 fatal large truck crashes per million people in the US. Moreover, in 73% of large truck accident fatalities, the first harmful event was a collision with a vehicle in transport.
Car vs. Truck Accident Statistics
19. In 2019, more passenger cars took part in fatal single-vehicle accidents than trucks.
That said, 37% of passenger cars were involved in fatal single-vehicle accidents, while the same can be said about 17% of truck crashes.
So, the likelihood of being involved in a fatal single-car accident is substantially higher in the case of passenger vehicles. However, the chances of surviving an impact with a truck are considerably lower, as outlined in numerous commercial truck accident statistics.
20. More passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes didn’t wear a seat belt than large truck drivers in 2019.
More specifically, 173 or 29% of large truck drivers didn’t wear a seat belt as opposed to 1,079 or 42% of passenger vehicle drivers. This showcases that seatbelt use in the US is still relatively low despite numerous educational efforts.
It is essential for drivers worldwide to be aware of the benefits associated with wearing a seatbelt and that it can make the difference between life and death.
21. In 2019, 11,741 more car occupants died in crashes than large truck occupants, as per truck vs. car accident statistics.
In detail, the number of car occupants who died that year was 12,420. At the same time, 679 large truck occupants lost their lives due to crashes.
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.
Based on everything that has been outlined so far, we can conclude that big truck crashes represent a worrying concern for public roads throughout the world. Thousands of people die yearly because of such events, whereas tens of thousands are injured.
Similarly, vehicle insurance companies must reimburse millions of dollars worth of property damage, thus explaining why insurance is generally pricier for trucks than the average car insurance price.
However, the weakest link in the chain is directly related to drivers’ education. Efforts should be undertaken to ensure that all road users know defensive driving techniques to help reduce the prevalence of truck crashes with other cars.
People Also Ask
Every year, over 500,000 truck-related crashes happen in the United States. Sadly, they end in more than 5,000 fatalities per year. Moreover, truck crashes with the highest number of deaths include accidents with passenger vehicles.
The size and weight of flatbed vehicles, tanker trucks, and semi-trucks may lead to catastrophic damage when a large commercial vehicle isn’t adequately operated or maintained.
Even though there’s no official data on truck accidents for 2020, there are some preliminary estimates.
Namely, there were almost 4,900 large truck fatalities that year. In addition, contributing factors impacting these fatalities were drinking and driving, not wearing a seat belt, and speeding.
On top of that, drivers showed an even riskier behavior on the roads during the pandemic crisis.
Mechanical defects, fatigue, drinking and driving, drugs, distraction, poor driver training and maintenance, speeding, and new tour routes are the most common causes of these crashes.
However, the most common one of all is fatigue. In other words, most truck drivers drive long distances for many hours without much rest in between. That’s mainly because people demand goods deliveries to specific destinations in a short period of time.
According to the latest official data, which is for 2019, there were 6,756,000 motor vehicle accidents.
Namely, truck accident statistics confirm that more than 164,000 of them involved large trucks. If we do the math, that equates to large trucks accounting for 2.4% of all motor vehicle accidents.
That sounds promising, given that it’s a decrease compared to previous years.