Trucking Accident Statistics

Accidents involving large trucks have become a cause of concern in the United States. Not only because of the increasing trend of these accidents occurring, but also the higher incidence of deaths, injuries, and property damage resulting from such an event. Other vehicles involved in an accident with a commercial truck will sustain greater damage due to the truck’s sheer size  combined with the weight of its body and load. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the Department of Transportation defines a large truck as a truck with gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. A bus is defined as a motor vehicle designed to carry more than 10 passengers, not including the driver. In the study entitled, “The Large Truck Causation,” conducted in July 2007, four main categories are mentioned as reasons for trucking accidents:

  • Non-Performance: The driver fell asleep, was disabled by a heart attack or seizure, or was physically impaired for another reason.
  • Recognition: The driver was inattentive, was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason.
  • Decision: For example, the driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.
  • Performance: For example, the driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.

In Utah, there was an increase in the number of registered heavy and light trucks from 2005-2010, with a total number of 379,899 and 3,491,525 respectively. (Page 121, 2010 Crash Report Utah Department of Public Safety). When truck accidents happen, usually people assume a problem with the brakes is to blame. Interestingly enough, brakes are the source of the problem less than 3% of the time. Engine and fuel problems are almost as rare, contributing to less than a fifth of total accidents. Trucking companies usually try to maintain their vehicles, but due to long hours on the road and ever changing weather conditions, tires are susceptible to wear and tear, and can blow out unexpectedly.

The Facts

In 2001, Utah Public Highway Safety reported that there were 2, 884 total crashes involving large and semi trucks with 824 recorded as injury crashes and 36 fatal crashes. In 2010, it was reported that 500,000 large truck and commercial vehicles were involved in accidents, with over 100,000 people sustaining serious injuries, and over 5000 people dying in these crashes. This was compared to only 3,200 deaths involving large trucks in 2009, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In a FMCSA 2013 report, it was reflected that from 2009 to 2011, there is an increase in the trend of fatal accidents involving large trucks. Records show that a total of 2,983 large trucks involved in accidents were recorded for 2009, 3,271 large trucks for 2010 and 3,341 for 2011. As compared to buses, there were 221, 247, and 242 respectively. The same report indicated the number of victims killed in accidents involving large trucks were 3,380 in 2009, 3,686 in 2010 and 3,757 in 2011 as compared to bus accidents fatalities as 254 in 2009, 278 in 2010 and 283 in 2011. For injuries resulting from accidents involving large trucks, the same trend was observed. 2009 reflected a record of 51, 000 followed by 56, 000 for 2010 and 60,000 for 2011.

Additional Trucking Statistics

Trucking is a competitive industry and often can be difficult on the drivers. People who drive trucks for long periods of time often have health issues, such as increased risk for cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Average sleeping hours on a working day are under 5 hours, and 10% of drivers work 94 hours per week or more. It can also be dangerous.  Truck drivers are 2.5 times more likely to get injured than the average American worker and 7 times more likely to die. All of these statistics contribute to a high turnover rate of 130% annually. Sometimes statistics and other abstract information or data is difficult to comprehend. We created the Semi-Truck Smashup Infographic as a visualization of data and other information to help you understand trucking accidents, in particular those involving large semi-trucks.  We sourced all of the data on the infographic from studies produced by the US Government, and while some are a couple years old, the data is still largely accurate and helps paint a comprehensive picture of the state of trucking and the related traffic accidents in the United States. To read more, visit our article about truck accidents.

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