It’s scary enough to think about getting into an accident with another car or SUV, but a truck crash can change your life in the blink of an eye. The size and weight of the nation’s trucks and buses makes them among the deadliest vehicles on the road, and they’re only getting deadlier.
Statistics posted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) show that truck accidents have been on the rise since 2009. The most recent numbers show that things got worse in nearly every category from 2016 to 2017.
More trucks mean more accidents
The rise in truck accidents owes largely to the fact the economic recovery has put more trucks on the road. However, as reports from FMCSA and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show, the number of trucks on the road is only part of the picture. Other statistics help reveal the larger picture, including:
- A total of 4,102 people died in large truck crashes in 2017.
- Only 17% of the people who died in large truck accidents were in the trucks. Sixty-eight percent were the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles, and 14% were bicyclists or pedestrians.
- The number of large truck and bus fatalities per 100 million miles increased by 6.8% from 2016 to 2017. This means the increased rate of fatalities owed to more than the number of trucks on the road.
- Truck accidents led to 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths.
- Less than half of all lethal truck accidents took place on highways and freeways. Fifty-two percent took place on other major roads, 32% on highways and freeways, and 15% on minor roads.
- Most lethal bus accidents involved local buses. Forty percent involved school buses, and 35% involved transit buses. Only 13% involved intercity buses.
- There was a 5% rise in the number of truck accidents that led to injuries, from 102,000 to 107,000.
- The three most common causes for lethal truck accidents were speeding, distracted driving and impairment. Impairment includes fatigue, alcohol and illness, among other things.
- Only 5% of truck drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for drugs, compared to 15% of the passenger vehicle drivers.
- Truck drivers were less likely to cause the crashes than the drivers of passenger vehicles, but 32% of them still recorded at least one driver-related factor leading to the crash.
Don’t treat large trucks like other cars
As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reminds us, the drivers and passengers of cars and other passenger vehicles are far more vulnerable in truck accidents than the truckers. Trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than cars and are unable to brake as quickly. That means you want to be extra careful when you drive around them. Now that you know the statistics, don’t let yourself become one.