Truck Crashes – How Common Are They?

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Very large trucks and tractor trailers are a huge part of several industries in the world, including construction and everything related to the functioning of supermarkets. Even if semis and tractor-trailers only sum up to around 5% of all the registered vehicles, they are involved in around 11% of accidents with deaths, based on data issued by the IIHS. This practically means that although truck crashes are not as common as crashes involving other vehicles, they are among the deadliest.

Fatal Accidents Involving Large Trucks

According to a Scranton truck accident attorney, in the US, there are over 500,000 accidents involving large trucks every single year. This leads to over 5,000 deaths and, unfortunately, the majority of those killed are passengers of other vehicles.

Besides these fatal accidents, we also have to talk about over 150,000 people who end up injured in such accidents. Only 29% of them occupied the large trucks.

Large Truck Accident Causes

Being aware of the most common causes of such truck accidents can help you avoid them. When looking only at the fatal crashes, the first harmful events were:

  • Collisions as vehicles were moving.
  • Collisions with fixed objects.
  • Hitting pedestrians.
  • Overturned trucks.
  • Hitting bicycles or similar vehicles.
  • Hitting parked vehicles.

A big factor in truck crashes is the truck’s braking capability. When referring to a tractor-trailer, its weight can easily reach 80,000 pounds. With such a vehicle, it takes up to 40% more space to stop when braking than what we see with a regular passenger car. This stopping distance only increases when the road is slippery or wet. Distracted truck drivers can easily end up braking too late so collisions are not avoided.

We should also highlight truck driver fatigue as a very important crash risk. According to HOS regulations, the large truck driver is allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours in one sitting. Unfortunately, there are many drivers that do violate these regulations. This can easily make them impaired due to fatigue. Drowsy truck drivers will often recognize hazards in a much longer time so reacting is difficult.

One thing that might surprise you is that just 2% of the commercial truck drivers who were involved in a fatal crash were under the influence of alcohol. This is actually a whole lot lower than with other vehicle types involved in accidents. In part, this is because the truck driver is not allowed to have measurable BAC (blood alcohol concentration) while being on duty and there is random testing done for drugs and alcohol.

Where Accidents Happen

The general belief is that truck accidents usually happen on interstate highways but the truth is that only a quarter of them do (when looking at fatal crashes). Most happen during the weekends and in rural areas. Fatal truck accidents happening in work zones only sum up to 6%.

We should also highlight that most motor carriers in the trucking industry right now are for-hire carriers, with the second most common category being private carriers. Government carriers sum up to the lowest amount of carriers operating in the US right now.