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Truck Accident Statistics

Posted on : November 27, 2023Posted By : Russell HillPosted In : Truck Accident

Truck accidents represent a significant and growing concern on our roads. In the following article, Russell & Hill, PLLC delve into pertinent statistics about these incidents, offering a detailed look at their frequency and impact, and emphasizing the vital role of legal guidance for those affected.

National Safety Council 2021 Truck Accident Statistics

Rise In Fatal Crashes Involving Large Trucks In 2021

In 2021, there was a notable increase in fatal accidents involving large trucks (medium or heavy trucks with a gross vehicle weight over 10,000 pounds). Specifically, 5,700 of these trucks were part of deadly crashes. This number represents a significant rise of 18% compared to 2020 and an even more striking 49% increase over the past decade. When we look at the rate of these incidents in relation to the number of miles traveled by large trucks, there’s a 7% increase from 2020 and a 22% increase over the last ten years.

This alarming increase points to a growing concern for road safety and underscores the need for enhanced safety measures and regulations for large vehicles.

Large Trucks’ Involvement In Traffic Fatalities

In the context of traffic fatalities, large trucks have a significant presence. They make up 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Despite this, they only account for 5% of all registered vehicles. Interestingly, these trucks are involved in 10% of the total miles traveled by all vehicles. This data indicates that large trucks, though not the most numerous on the roads, play a substantial role in fatal traffic incidents.

Fatalities In Crashes Involving Large Trucks

5,788 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2021. When breaking down these fatalities, there were 1,008 fatalities of truck occupants and 631 fatalities of non-occupants (like pedestrians and cyclists). The fatalities of occupants of other vehicles in these crashes were the highest, with 4,149 in 2021, indicating that these crashes often have a more severe impact on other road users, such as passengers in smaller vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Location, Time, And Other Factors

Focusing on 2021, fatal crashes involving large trucks were more common in rural areas (2,802) than in urban areas (2,336). Most of these crashes occurred on non-interstate roads (3,810) compared to interstates (1,339). In terms of the time of day, daytime crashes (3,266) outnumbered nighttime crashes (1,874). Notably, a small percentage of these crashes occurred in work zones (288), while the majority did not involve work zones (4,861). The monthly distribution of these crashes in 2021 showed a fairly even spread throughout the year, with the highest numbers in September (515) and the lowest in February (289).

Vehicle-Related Factors

The data revealed that a majority of large trucks involved in fatal accidents were impacted by collisions with other moving vehicles. A collision with a vehicle in transport was noted as the most significant event in 74% of fatal crashes and 75% of nonfatal crashes involving large trucks.

In 63% of fatal large truck crashes, the critical pre-crash event involved an external factor, such as another vehicle, person, animal, or object either in the truck’s lane or moving into it. Furthermore, in 24% of these fatal accidents, the critical factor was the truck’s own movement or a loss of control, highlighting issues related to vehicle handling or mechanical failures.

In terms of the types of trucks involved, there was a significant variation. Single-trailer trucks accounted for more than half (54%) of the large trucks in fatal crashes in 2021. In contrast, trucks pulling two trailers comprised 2%, and those pulling three trailers made up only 0.1%.

Safety Belt Usage and Fatalities

In 2021, 15% (1,013) of fatal crashes involved safety belts not worn by large truck occupants. Out of these, 408 (40%) died in the crash. This contrasts with the 8% (431) fatality rate among the 5,351 large truck occupants who were wearing safety belts in fatal crashes.

Drug Use Among Drivers

About 6% (310) of the large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a positive drug test, though 62% of them weren’t tested. In comparison, 17% (10,110) of all vehicle drivers in fatal crashes tested positive, with 46% not being tested. Drug testing is more likely if there’s evidence suggesting drugs played a role in the crash.

Driver-Related Factors in Fatal Crashes

In 32% of fatal accidents, at least one driver-related factor was noted. This is lower than the 54% for passenger vehicle drivers. The most common factor for both was speeding. For large truck drivers, the second most common factor was distraction or inattention, while for passenger vehicle drivers, it was impairment (due to fatigue, alcohol, illness, etc.).

State-By-State Variation

In 2021, the involvement of trucks in fatal collisions varied significantly across states. For instance, fatal truck accidents in Washington represented 2% of the U.S. total. In contrast, states like Alaska and the District of Columbia had much lower numbers, with only 8 and 1 large trucks involved in fatal crashes, respectively.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 2021 Truck Accident Statistics

Common Types Of Harmful Events In Large Truck Crashes

In 2021, the most common first harmful event in large truck crashes was a collision with another vehicle in transport, accounting for 74% of fatal crashes. Rollovers, or overturns, were the first harmful event in 4% of all fatal large truck crashes. A significant proportion of work zone crashes involved large trucks in 2021.

Increase In Fatal Large Truck Crashes Relative To U.S. Population

The rate of fatal crashes per million people in the U.S. was 15.51 in 2021, representing a 46% increase since 2010. This statistic puts into perspective the growing rate of such crashes in relation to the population, emphasizing the increasing risk these vehicles pose to public safety.

Demographics Of Drivers

The demographics of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2021 showed that 7% were 25 years old or younger and another 7% were 66 years old or older. This age distribution suggests that both relatively inexperienced and older drivers are involved in fatal accidents, pointing to the need for targeted safety training and health assessments for drivers at both ends of the age spectrum.

Hazardous Materials In Truck Crashes

Hazardous materials were present in a small but significant portion of large truck crashes in 2021: 3% in fatal crashes and 2% in injury and towaway crashes. Of these, 17% involved a release of hazardous materials from placarded trucks. Flammable liquids like gasoline and fuel oil were the most common substances released.

Washington Department Of Transportation 2021-2022 Truck Crash Statistics

Truck accidents are a significant concern in Washington State, particularly involving medium-heavy trucks. In 2022, the Washington Department of Transportation reported 88 drivers involved in fatal crashes with medium-heavy trucks. This figure slightly decreased from 2021, where there were 93 drivers involved in fatal truck crashes.

Toxicology Findings in Truck Drivers

An alarming aspect of these accidents is the prevalence of substance use among truck drivers. In 2022, 17 drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive in toxicology tests.

Most Accidents Occurred In The 56-60 Age Group

The age group of 56-60 years accounted for the largest number of truck accidents in both years. This statistic indicates a potential need for targeted safety and health interventions for drivers in this age group, possibly addressing issues like reaction time, health conditions, or driving habits that may contribute to a higher risk of accidents.

Speeding, Distracted Driving, and Failure To Yield Contributed To Accidents

15 percent of crashes in 2021 and 2022 in Washington were collectively attributed to speeding, distracted driving, or failure to yield. Speeding is a significant factor in truck accidents. The large size and weight of trucks mean that any collision at high speed can have devastating consequences. Speeding not only reduces the driver’s reaction time but also affects the vehicle’s handling and braking capabilities.

Distracted driving is another critical factor contributing to truck accidents. This can include using a mobile phone, adjusting the radio, eating, or any other activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Given the responsibility of handling a large vehicle, truck drivers must be particularly vigilant to avoid distractions.

Failure to yield is another significant cause of accidents involving trucks. This can occur at intersections, highway merges, or when making turns. Truck drivers, due to the size of their vehicles, must be extra cautious to respect right-of-way rules and be aware of other vehicles on the road.

Russell & Hill, PLLC Truck Accident Attorneys

If you’re a victim of a truck accident and contemplating an insurance claim or lawsuit, it’s essential to have knowledgeable and compassionate legal representation. Russell & Hill, PLLC focuses in personal injury cases, particularly those involving truck accidents. We are dedicated to advocating for your rights and securing the compensation you need to move forward. Reach out to us by phone at 800-529-0842 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Let us be your guide and advocate in this critical time, ensuring your voice is heard and your rights are protected.

Learn more about truck accidents in Washington.

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