Truck Accident Statistics

Anyone traveling America’s highways can see there are lots of big trucks on the road from tractor trailers and tankers carrying hazardous materials to logging rigs and dump trucks. In 2008, 380,000 trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds (gross vehicle weight) were involved in traffic accidents. As a direct result, 4066 people died and another 90,000 were injured.

The statistics are grim, especially for the occupants of passenger vehicles. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, “one out of nine traffic fatalities in 2008 resulted from a collision involving a large truck”. 74% of the time people in the smaller vehicle died - not the truck driver. Where there were injuries, the pattern was the same. The occupants of the passenger vehicle or the pedestrians were more likely to be injured than the truck operator. See , for Traffic Safety Facts , 2008 Data on Large Trucks.

If this were not bad enough, studies show that a large semi truck is more likely to be involved in a fatal, multiple-vehicle crash than the average passenger vehicle. This is not surprising given the fact many trucks are over 50 feet long and weigh more than 50,000 pounds - some over 80,0000 pounds. Big trucks can take up lots of space when they stop suddenly in the middle of the road after an accident. It can be impossible for other vehicles approaching the crash scene to avoid striking them.

Most multiple-vehicle truck accident fatalities take place while the vehicles are moving straight ahead, not while they are engaging in unusual maneuvers. Only 20% occur when either vehicle is taking a curve or the other vehicle (not the truck) is turning.

The NHSTA study presents more interesting facts and figures. Do you think large truck accident fatalities are more likely to happen on superhighways at night? Wrong. Most take place in rural areas during daylight hours.

There is some good news in the 2008 numbers. Only 1% of large truck operators involved in fatal accidents were intoxicated at the time of the accident. However, the intoxication figures for other types of drivers associated with large truck collisions are sobering and serve as a strong reminder why it is not safe to drink and drive: 23 % of passenger car and light truck drivers and 27% of motorcycle drivers were intoxicated when they were involved in an accident with a large truck. Don’t drink and drive!