Reviewing truck crash data can help drivers, government agencies, personal injury attorneys and others identify risk factors and accident patterns to better determine the influencing factors that lead to injuries and fatalities on America’s roadways. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) issues annual reports filled with statistical informationeach year on why large trucks pose major safety concerns to everyone sharing the road. Some of that information is shared below.
Why Truck Accidents Occur
Because of the weight and size of large trucks, the majority of fatalities involving large commercial vehicle accidents happen to occupants in passenger vehicles. Some 18 wheelers can weigh 80,000 pounds or more and travel up to 70 miles per hour on the nations freeways. Their inability to come to stop quickly is often a leading factor of many truck crashes especially when other motorists are driving erratically or the trucker is negotiating slippery, wet or icy road surface conditions.Faulty truck brakes and defective tires cause many accident fatalities as does fatigue by truck drivers hurrying to deliver their load on schedule.
Due to the massive weight and size of large commercial truck, any accident can be catastrophic. On average, over 15 million commercial vehicles travel the nation’s roadways every year. Out of that, 2 million of those vehicles are semi-trucks, heavy trucks, tractor-trailers, 18 wheelers and big rigs. Approximately 98 percent of all accidents involving semi-trucksand heavy trucks claim the life of at least one individual.
Information released by the U.S. DOT (Department of Transportation) in 2013 indicate that more than 3600 individuals lost their lives in a large truck accident. Only one in six truck accident fatalities involved the death of a truck occupant and nearly 7 in 10 occupied other passenger vehicles with the remainder involving motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. However, statistical data on two vehicle crashes that involved a collision of a large truck with a passenger automobile indicates that the occupants inside the passenger vehicle were at greater risk of dying, and accounted for 97 percent of all deaths.
The number of fatalities involving large commercial vehicles has risen dramatically since 2009, by more than 14 percent. However, statistics indicate that 1979 had the highest incident rate of truck accident fatalities since U.S. crash data was first collected in 1975.
Where Fatal Collisions Occur
Even though large commercial vehicles are everywhere on America’s roadways, there are specific areas that tend to have a higher incidence rate of collisions involving fatalities. In 2013, the data shows that only 30 percent of all truck accident related deaths occurred on America’s freeways and interstates, which claimed the lives of 1089 individuals. Approximately 10 percent of truck collision fatalities (348 deaths) happened on minor roads while the majority of truck crash deaths totaling 2157 (60 percent) happened on other major roads.
While it is dangerous to drive at night, the majority of large truck vehicle crash fatalities in 2013 happened in sunlight between 6 AM and 3 PM. The second most dangerous time of the day to be involved in a large truck crash appears to be 3 PM to 9 PM. The time between 9 PM and 3 AM account for only 16 percent or approximately one in six fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles.
Additionally, business days (Monday through Friday) account for 84 percent of all fatal truck accidents. In 2013, large commercial truck collisions occurring on Saturday and Sunday resulted in approximately 16 percent of the total number of accident related deaths.
More than three out of 10 large truck crashes involve driver fatigue. Additionally, approximately nine out of every 10 large truck accidents are the result of some type of human error, when the trucker, other motorists, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists make a mistake.
The total cost of tractor-trailer accidents with fatalities in the US costs $20 billion or more every year, where more than $13 billion goes directly to financial compensation to survivors. On average, the cost of a commercial vehicle crash is approximately $60,000 per incident.
In addition to the financial costs of losing a loved one in a truck vehicle accident, the emotional loss to survivors is insurmountable in many cases. This is because the majority of fatal accidents involving truckers are preventable.