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Truck Accident Statistics 2021

Truck Accident Statistics You Should Know About in 2021

In today’s consumer-driven market, manufacturers and businesses are under increased pressure to reduce delivery times. For this, the trucking industry has cemented itself as the most reliable delivery method of goods across the United States. With an estimated worth of close to $800 billion, trucking is responsible for most overland freight in the US.  

Since they’re large and often packing a lot of weight, truck crashes can be especially serious and result in devastating injuries.  Some of the factors that contribute to truck accidents include:

  • Poor truck braking capability that results in taking 20-40% longer to stop
  • Truck driver fatigue
  • Weight of the trucks

In this article, you will find an overview of the most important truck accident statistics 2021.

Truck Accidents Cause Roughly 130,000 Injuries Each Year

A variety of factors – increased consumer demand, economic pressures, driver distraction, and more – contribute to the number of truck accidents that occur annually. Due to their enormous size and weight, accidents involving trucks often result in many severe injuries to the drivers, passengers, and other people involved. Each year, about 130,000 people are injured in such accidents. Some of the common injuries include:

  • Back and neck
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Whiplash
  • Internal bleeding
  • Head trauma

In most cases, victims of such injuries require immediate medical attention, and some will have to undergo multiple surgeries. 


Truck Accidents Result in Roughly 4000 Deaths Each Year

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), truck accidents cause approximately 4,000 deaths each year. In 2019, the number of deaths stood at 4,119. Compared to figures from 2009, there has been a 31% increase in truck accident fatalities.


In Two-Vehicle Accidents Involving a Passenger Car and a Truck, Passenger Cars Account for 97% of Vehicle Occupant Deaths

We’ve said it time and time again: while not all car-truck crashes are the truck’s fault, in a collision between a car and a truck, the car almost always suffers greater damage. Sometimes referred to as motor vehicle juggernauts, trucks can be very dangerous when out of control. Compared to passenger vehicles, they are much larger and weigh up to 20-30 times more, and with much more ground clearance.  

Data from truck and passenger vehicle accidents best put this into perspective. In total, passenger vehicle occupants accounted for 67% of fatalities involving trucks in 2019. However, when you isolate accidents that only involved two vehicles, passenger vehicle occupants account for 97% of vehicle occupant deaths. Data from other years also demonstrates a similar percentage.

While Motor Vehicle Accidents Have Fallen, 18-Wheeler Crashes are on the Rise

In general, motor vehicle accidents have been a major cause of concern over the past few decades. Due to several measures and increased awareness of the need for responsible driving, the number of motor vehicle accidents has been reducing. However, freight trucks have proven to be an anomaly in this trend as accidents have been increasing.

This trend is more evident in larger trucks in the weight category of 10,000 to 14,000 pounds. With tractor-trailers, those exceeding 26,000 pounds, a 5.8% rise in death rate has been noted.


More Than Half of Truck Accidents Occur on Major Roads

The US road network comprises different types of roads. These include major roads, freeways, and interstates. Regardless of the road you are on, it’s safe to say it’s never too long before you see a truck. Though one may assume that truck accidents are distributed in a somewhat even fashion across the different types of roads, that’s not the case.

Of the 4,119 deaths in 2019, 2,158 deaths occurred on major roads, contributing to 52% of the total. The other deaths were distributed between interstates and freeways and minor roads, accounting for 32% and 15%, respectively.


48% of Large Truck Accident Deaths Occur Between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.

As evident from previous statistics, passenger vehicle occupants are the most affected by accidents involving trucks. This is why the number of truck accident deaths is significantly higher when there’s high passenger vehicle activity.

In 2019, seventeen percent of the accident fatalities involving a truck occurred on Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, 48% of fatal truck crashes occur between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. In comparison, only 30% of fatal car crashes occur during that time frame. 

Only 0.4% of Truck Accidents are Caused by Illegal Substance Abuse

In a bid to understand the true causes of truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted the Large Truck Causation Study. Contrary to what most people believe, illegal substance abuse and alcohol only contributed to 0.4% and 0.3% of crashes.

The study revealed that the primary cause of accidents includes mechanical defects, fatigue, and new tour routes. Another 5% of truck accidents are attributed to aggressive driving. 


64% of Large Truck Occupant Fatalities Occur in Accidents Involving Another Large Truck

 In 2019, 306 large truck occupants died in accidents. Of that figure, only 110, accounting for 36%, died in accidents involving one large truck. The other 196, or 64%, died in accidents where more than one large truck was involved. This demonstrates that accidents involving multiple trucks are more dangerous to truck occupants, and it is one of the reasons trucking can be a dangerous job.


Rollover Accidents Account for 47% of Truck Occupant Deaths

Compared to other types of accidents, rollovers are the most dangerous for truck occupants. Of the 679 truck occupant deaths in 2019, 319 were involved in accidents where their vehicles rolled over. This accounts for 47% of all the deaths. This percentage is higher than that of SUV and pickup occupant deaths from rollover accidents which are 39% and 38%, respectively. 


Seat Belt Use Is Observed in 48% of Truck Driver Fatalities

Wearing seatbelts is one of the most effective methods of reducing the risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash. However, depending on the magnitude of the impact, passengers can still get injured fatally. Of all the truck drivers fatally injured in accidents in 2019, 48% were wearing seatbelts. Though it is fair to point out that belt use among 23% of fatally injured truck drivers was unknown, that’s still a high percentage. 

Wearing seatbelts should be accompanied by responsible driving, proper vehicle maintenance, and other measures to help lower the risk of a fatal crash.


Head-on Collisions Account for 29% of Passenger Vehicle Occupant Deaths

Undoubtedly, other than pedestrians and cyclists, passenger vehicle occupants are the most at risk on roads. In two-vehicle accidents involving a truck and a passenger vehicle, 29% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths were due to head-on collisions. In accidents where passenger vehicles rear-ended the truck or were side-struck, the death rate for both stood at 24% and 13%, respectively. 


Loaded-Tractor Trailers Require Up to 40% More Space to Stop

One of the challenges of being a large truck driver is that the vehicles are somewhat more prone to accidents, but you have less time to react. This is primarily due to the size and weight of trucks. With loaded tractor-trailers, 40% more space is needed for it to come to a stop compared to passenger vehicles. This means that the drivers should be extremely focused at all times as they have less time to react.


Tractor-Trailer Trucks Cause 46% more Fatalities Compared to Single Unit Trucks

The weight and size of a vehicle significantly affect its maneuverability and stability. This is why trucks are more susceptible to accidents than passenger vehicles. This observation is also evident among different-sized trucks. In comparison with single-unit trucks, tractor-trailer trucks contributed 46% more fatalities in 2018.

What’s Next After an Accident Involving a Large Truck

Accidents involving large trucks are usually catastrophic. Victims are either injured seriously or killed, and the property damage can be significant. If you live through such an ordeal, you may end up with lifelong injuries or suffer other forms of losses. One of the best ways to mitigate these losses is by seeking legal recourse.

At Munley Law, we have a team of attorneys with decades of experience with accidents involving large trucks. Reach out to us today for a free consultation on how best to proceed with your case.


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