Truck accidents kill 5,000 people per year on America's endless highways. Even more concerning, truck accidents have shown an unprecedented uptrend.
FHWA reported a 9.4% increase in truck accident injuries in 2021 alone. It caused delays in the supply chain, injuries, and devastating deaths.
Regardless of your driving experience, you must know the statistics in this article to stay safe on the road. Scroll down for more information!
- Vehicles over 20,0000 pounds increase the likelihood of causing more severe injuries.
- Daytime crashes comprise 63.54% of all crashes.
- Driving between 4 PM to 7 PM decreases the possibility of injuries.
- Semi-truck accidents are more likely to occur in rural areas.
- Drivers above 45 are more likely to be involved in more severe crashes.
- Occupants of other vehicles make up 72% of all fatalities in significant truck accidents.
- 56.1% of all fatal large truck crashes were semi-truck crashes.
- 1008 large-truck occupants died in crashes in 2021.
- There were 806 fatalities in Texas due to large truck crashes in 2021 alone.
How Common Are Truck Accidents in 2023?
Data shows that 8.9% of accidents in the US in 2020 were large truck accidents. The NHTSA has not yet released its statistics for large truck accidents for 2022 and 2023.
However, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports 5,700 fatal accidents involving large trucks, a 49% increase in the past decade. In the same year, 117,300 heavy vehicles had accidents that injured someone.
The following sections will explain the most recent, publicly available statistics on large truck and semi-truck accidents. Moreover, it presents the demographic profiles of those involved in accidents and casualty statistics.
Statistics on Large Truck Accidents
Trucks must abide by the specific laws for their size. The bigger the truck, the more restrictions apply.
Truck drivers also spend numerous hours on the road. Thus, mechanical issues, fatigue, illness, and unpredictable weather may compromise their and others' road safety.
Read the following numbers on truck accidents to learn more:
1. Vehicles over 20,000 pounds increase the likelihood of causing more severe injuries.
(Journal of Safety Research)
The larger the truck, the more severe the crash injuries. Damage, injury, and single-fatality crashes are also more likely for single-truck companies. Due to more frequent shifts and driver fatigue, the risk increases.
On the other hand, small truck companies with two to five trucks are optimal for safety in all kinds of crashes. However, trucks from large companies with 100 or more trucks are more likely to cause multiple fatalities.
2. Daytime crashes comprise 63.54% of all crashes.
(NSC, Analytic Methods in Accident Research)
Most people think large-truck accidents happen at night owing to driver fatigue and poor visibility, but only 36.46% of fatal crashes do. In 2020, August had the most fatalities, likely due to rainy conditions on dry surfaces, while April had the least.
Human behavior, such as weariness and biorhythms, can influence injury severity throughout the day. People are also more alert and cautious about their decision-making in the morning.
3. Driving between 4 PM and 7 PM decreases the likelihood of injuries.
(Accident Analysis & Prevention)
Traveling during "peak hours" was associated with a lesser likelihood of injuries. This association is likely due to lower travel speeds due to road congestion during busy hours. It reduces the force of impacts caused by a crash.
4. 2,497,657 people were injured on US roads in 2021.
The FHWA reported a 9.4% increase in truck accident injuries from this. There were a 6.6% increase in occupants in multi-vehicle crashes and a 13% increase in other vehicle occupants.
On the other hand, 16% of injuries were from nonoccupants of vehicles. The report also shows a 7.7% decline in injuries in single-vehicle crashes.
Semi Truck Accident Statistics
Semi-trucks carry cargo via one or more trailers and a tractor that contains an engine. They go by several names and are often informally called "tractor-trailers" and "18-wheelers".
Semi-trucks are behemoths on the highway. They can travel with or without their trailers. Thus, they dominate truck accident statistics.
Read the rest of this section to learn more about the numbers regarding likely locations and reasons for semi-truck crashes:
5. Semi-trucks need up to 40% more space to stop.
(Dolman Law Group)
Due to their size and heavy loads, semi-trucks need more space to stop than passenger cars. Drivers needing more space have less time to react to unforeseen situations like crashes and poor road conditions.
6. Rural locations have more semi-truck accidents.
Two-thirds of semi-truck crashes occur on roads outside interstates or freeways. Being flatter, longer, and having higher speed limits may cause drivers to feel more fatigued.
Long-winding rural roads can also cause drivers to lose focus, leading to unexpected crashes.
7. Semi-trucks are most vulnerable to curved roads.
(Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine)
Speed is crucial while navigating curves. Semi-trucks—one-third of rollovers—are especially vulnerable to curves.
In comparison, straight trucks were involved in only 10% of all rollover-related accident statistics. Semi-trucks are more likely to roll over due to their high center of gravity and unstable loads.
Truck Accident Statistics Demographics
3.5 million professional truck drivers are working in the trucking industry in the US. On the other hand, the American Trucking Association estimates that 7.99 million people work in trucking-related activities.
Continue reading below to learn more about truck accidents by demographic:
8. 84.3% of all truckers are men.
Women account for 15.7% of all professional truck drivers, while 84.3% are men. More than half of truck drivers are white, comprising 58% of the entire demographic. Hispanics, or Latinos, follow far behind with 17.9% and African Americans at 14.%.
9. Drivers over 45 are more likely to be involved in more severe crashes.
(Accident Analysis and Prevention)
With a median age of 46, truckers are older than other workers. They also have lesser educational achievement, with only 7% having a bachelor's degree. However, truck drivers have more work security than other laborers.
On the dark side, older truck drivers have longer reaction times than those aged 35 to 44. Furthermore, it may influence their ability to adapt to sudden changes that may lead to crashes.
10. African-American drivers show more involvement in severe crashes.
(Accident Analysis and Prevention)
With 13.7% involvement, truck drivers from African American backgrounds are shown to be marginally more involved in more severe crashes compared to other ethnicities. However, 65% of the sample involved in crashes are white drivers.
11. Drivers who wear eyeglasses are less likely to be involved in severe crashes.
(Accident Analysis and Prevention)
In an Accident Analysis and Prevention study, 65% of truck drivers had some form of vision problem. Reasonably, those who wore glasses had better vision and were thus less involved in severe crashes.
Truck Accident Casualty Statistics
Being behemoths of the road, truck accident casualties are not uncommon. Truck crashes often injure drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bike lanes.
There are many risks associated with truck driving. Long hours and bad weather on the road can lead to accidents and deaths.
The following statistics discuss fatalities by occupancy, truck type, statistical increase, and casualties by state:
12. Occupants of other vehicles make up 72% of all fatalities in large truck accidents.
There were 5,788 fatalities in large truck crashes in 2021 alone, 20% higher than the previous year. Due to the massive size of trucks, fatalities tend to occur more frequently in occupants of other vehicles, by 4.2 times more than truck occupants.
Nonoccupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, comprise 11% of all large truck fatalities.
13. 56.1% of all fatal large truck crashes were semi-truck crashes.
Fifty-three percent of fatal large truck crashes involved single semis pulling one trailer. Doubles, or semis that pull two trailers account for 3 percent of the deadly crashes. On the other hand, triples, which pull three trailers, account for the remaining 0.1%.
14. Large truck accidents make up 8% of all rural road crashes.
Large trucks are more likely to experience fatal crashes in rural areas compared to urban areas. Together with buses, they are to blame for 8% of crashes on rural US roads.
Urban roads have more vehicle and nonoccupant fatalities than rural areas. The roads tend to be more congested due to more motorists. Because of this, trucks tend to drive slower.
On lonely rural roads, trucks rarely have any competition. That said, tiredness from long hours of driving and a false sense of security can lead to a crash.
15. 1008 large-truck occupants died in crashes in 2021.
In 2021, large truck accidents killed 1008 occupants. This number shows a 23% increase in the number of people killed compared to 2020.
Compared to data from 1996, the percentage of people killed outside the vehicle increased from 20% to 34% in 2021. Conversely, those killed inside the vehicle have declined from 80% to 66%.
16. 806 people died in Texas due to large truck crashes in 2021.
On the other hand, Nebraska and Iowa both hold the record for the highest % of large trucks involved in fatal accidents, with 16%. Kansas and Wyoming follow with 14%.
The state with the fewest deaths from large truck crashes is the District of Columbia, with only one death. Rhode Island follows with three deaths. Hawaii and New Hampshire share third place with seven deaths.
The Bottom Line
Crashes can be catastrophic for drivers and others involved, from property damage to disruption of businesses to the loss of life. It is vital to ensure that roads and trucks are safe for drivers and non-drivers alike.
Understanding the numbers involved in truck crashes can help drivers and companies make decisions for their own and others' safety.