The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that in 2018 there were 4,136 deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes involving a large truck. This represents a 52% increase from the lowest point in 2009 when 3,247 people died in accidents involving at least one truck.
Are Truck-Related Crashes Declining?
A report by NHTSA indicated that traffic fatalities overall declined in 2018 from 2017, even though miles traveled had increased. This decline was a shift away from the slow increase in truck-involved fatalities in previous years.
Total deaths in 2017 involving large trucks were 4,761. This represents a 9% increase in the number of fatalities in 2016. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fatal collisions involving trucks in 2016 experienced a 3% increase over 2015’s numbers. These fatal crashes in 2015 resulted in 4,317 deaths, of which 722 were occupants of the trucks.
It appears that fatal crashes involving large trucks increased year over year until 2018. 4,050 large trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds were in a total of 3,598 fatal crashes in 2015, an 8% increase from 2014. Of the nearly 415,000 reported crashes involving large trucks, 1% resulted in deaths.
The numbers of truck accident fatalities speak for themselves; the number of accidents may not rise every year, but there are still far too many deaths. Unless truck drivers and trucking companies are held accountable for their negligence, we can expect the numbers to continue to rise.
Who Dies in a Truck-Related Crash?
When an occupant of a large truck died because of a crash, the crash had resulted in the truck rolling over 45% of the time. Thus, 55% of the time the occupants of large trucks were killed in a non-rollover wreck. The total number of occupants in large trucks killed in crashes in 2018 was 678. The total number of occupants in passenger vehicles killed in 2018 in wrecks with large trucks was 2,786.
Truck rollover wrecks often could have been prevented and are the result of negligence. These wrecks can most often be attributed to the following causes:
- driver distraction
- driver inattention
- aggressive or reckless steering
- dangerous loading of the tractor trailer
The Deadliest States
2,734 fatal crashes were reported in the United States in 2019 involving trucks and buses. 3,087 people died in those crashes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported crash rates for 2019 showing that three states had the most people killed in wrecks involving large trucks and buses. Almost a third of all those who died in these types of crashes happened in these states. The top three states with the highest number of deadly bus and large truck crashes were:
A total of 941 people died in these states. This number accounted for 30% of deaths of all the deadly crashes involving large trucks or buses in the U.S.
Who Causes These Crashes?
In 2013, a report by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), it was determined that 80 percent of car-truck crashes were caused by car drivers. The report was compiled using data from studies done by the FMCSA, the NHTSA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan (UMTRI).
UMTRI studied 8,309 fatal crashes involving cars and trucks and determined that 81% of car drivers were assigned fault. 27% of the time the wrecks were the fault of the truck drivers. Similarly, the NHTSA conducted a study of 10,092 fatal accidents in 2003 where it was deemed that cars caused 91% of head-on crashes with trucks, 91% of opposite-direction impacts, 71% of rear-end collisions, and 77% of same-direction impacts.
Perhaps the most common mistake car drivers make is not understanding the limits the truck driver faces, such as braking or visibility. Drivers are usually the reason for crashes, and for avoiding them. How many people die in truck accidents is usually determined by the person behind the wheel.