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Truck Accident Statistics

  • Interruption of the traffic flow
  • Unfamiliarity with roadway
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Illegal maneuver
  • Inattention
  • Fatigue
  • Illness
  • False assumption of other road user's actions
  • Distraction by object or person inside the vehicle.
  • An average of about 5,000 trucks are involved in a fatal traffic accident each year.
  • Tractors pulling one semitrailer are the most common truck configuration, accounting for about 60% of all trucks involved in a fatal accident.
  • Texas, California, and Florida had the greatest number of truck involvements over the period 1996 to 2000.
  • The number of persons killed in accidents involving a truck decreased to 5,567 in 2000, compared with an average of 5,647 from 1997-1999.
  • The number of truck drivers killed in traffic accidents increased from 658 in 1998 to 713 in 2000.
  • About 360 pedestrians and 70 bicyclists are killed each year in traffic accidents involving trucks.
  • 136,438 Large Trucks  and 12,498 Buses Involved in Non-Fatal Crashes
  • 54,961 Large Trucks  and 6,709 Buses Involved in Injury Crashes
  • 80,752  Injuries in Crashes Involving Large Trucks and 15,297 Injuries in Crashes Involving Buses
  • 81,477 Large Trucks  and 5,789 Buses Involved in Tow away Crashes
  • 2,231 Large Trucks and 10 Buses Involved in Hazmat (HM) Placard Crashes Vehicle Statistics
  • These statistics are derived from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).
  • Straight trucks with no trailer represented 28.8% of all trucks involved in a fatal accident.
  • Tractor-semitrailers accounted for 60.0% of the trucks.
  • Over half of the tractor-semitrailers pulled a van trailer - either a dry box van or a refrigerated van.
  • 24.6% of the straight trucks had dump bodies.  The next most common straight truck cargo body was a van body, with 21.8%.
  • 30.2% of the trucks were empty, 21.8% were carrying general freight, and 13.1% were carrying solids in bulk (gravel, soil, etc.) at the time of the accident.
  • 8 trucks were longer than 100 feet; 43 weighed more than 100,000 pounds.
  • 74.6% of the trucks involved in a fatal accident were Class 8, the heaviest Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) class.
  • 49.1% of the trucks were operated by interstate for-hire carriers, 17.8% by interstate private carriers, and 16.6% by intrastate private carriers.
  • 34.5% of the trucks were on local trips (within 50 miles of base) when involved in the fatal accident.
  • 2.2% of truck drivers involved in a fatal traffic accident had been drinking.
  • Drug use was reported in 0.6% of truck drivers involved in a fatal crash.
  • 96.4% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents were male.
  • 713 truck drivers were fatally injured in traffic accidents.
  • 2.1% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents were recorded as drowsy or asleep.
  • Driving too fast was the most common driver factor recorded (7.6%), followed by ran-off road (6.9%), and inattention (5.4%).
  • 63.4% of truck drivers had no driver factors recorded.
  • Truck configurations with a straight-truck power unit accounted for 33.3% of all trucks involved in a fatal traffic accident.
  • 38.3% of straight trucks were Class 8 (over 33,000 lbs.)  Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and 18.7% were Class 3 (10,001-14,000 lbs.).
  • The lightest straight trucks involved in a fatal accident in 2000 weighed 5,000 pounds or less; the heaviest straight truck combination weighed over 120,000 pounds.
  • 36.9% of straight trucks were empty at the time of the accident; while solids in bulk were the most frequent cargo type, accounting for 19.2%.
  • 54.2% of straight truck configurations involved in a fatal traffic accident had two axles, 24.3% had three axles (including the trailer), and one straight truck combination had seven axles on the power unit and four axles on the trailer.
  • 37.7% of straight trucks were operated by a private, intrastate carrier; 23.7% by a private, interstate carrier; and only 11.6% by a for-hire, interstate carrier.
  • 66.3% of straight trucks were on a local trip (within 50 miles of base) at the time of the accident.
  • 262 straight truck drivers were fatally injured in a traffic accident; 39.3% of the fatalities occurred in ran-off-road crashes.
  • Truck configurations in which the power unit was a tractor accounted for 3,472 of the 5,275 trucks (65.8%) involved in a fatal accident.
  • 94.0% of the power units in tractor combinations were Class 8 (over 33,000 lbs.)  Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
  • The three lightest tractor configurations weighed 10,000 pounds or less, and were bobtail tractors; the four heaviest tractor configurations were doubles with a loaded weight over 150,000 pounds.
  • 71.8% of tractor combinations weighed between 25,001 and 80,000 pounds.
  • 27.2% of tractor combinations were empty at the time of the accident; while the most common cargo was general freight with 26.6% of tractor involvements.
  • 88.6% of tractor-semitrailer configurations consisted of a three-axle tractor pulling a two-axle trailer.  62.3% of doubles (two trailers) consisted of a two-axle tractor with a one-axle first trailer and a two-axle second trailer.
  • 68.8% of tractor combinations were operated by for-hire, interstate carriers; 15.1% of tractors were operated by private, interstate carriers.
  • 19.0% of tractor combinations were on a local trip (within 50 miles of base) at the time of the accident; 19.8% were on a trip over 500 miles.
  • 449 tractor drivers were fatally injured in a traffic accident; 48.1% of the fatalities occurred in ran-off-road crashes.

Preliminary National Crash Facts                

This section provides statistics that describe the physical configuration of trucks involved in a fatal accident.  Of the 5,275 trucks involved in a fatal accident, there were 3,164 tractor-semitrailers, 1,519 straight trucks with no trailer, 222 straight trucks pulling a trailer, 123 bobtail tractors, and 162 tractors pulling two trailers.

Truck Driver Statistics
This section provides statistics on the drivers of trucks involved in fatal traffic accidents.

Straight Truck Statistics
This section provides descriptive statistics on straight trucks involved in a fatal traffic accident.  A straight truck is a truck power unit with a permanently attached cargo body.  Straight truck configurations include trucks pulling no trailers, trucks pulling a full or other trailer, and wreckers towing cars or other straight trucks.

Note: 445 straight trucks had "other" cargo bodies, bodies that did not fall into any named cargo body type.  Most of these were utility bodies or some other working body type such as concrete mixers, cement pumps, or boom trucks.
Tractor Trailer Statistics
This section provides descriptive statistics on tractor combinations involved in a fatal traffic accident.  A tractor is a truck power unit with a fifth wheel designed to pull semitrailers.  Tractor configurations include tractors pulling no trailers (bobtail), tractors pulling one or more semitrailers, and other configurations with supplementary units such as jeeps that permit hauling very heavy loads or configurations in which the tractor towed other tractors by means of saddle mounts.

Extracted from:
TRUCKS INVOLVED IN FATAL ACCIDENTS FACTBOOK
Center for National Truck Statistics
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) to examine the reasons for serious crashes involving large trucks (trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds).  From the 120,000 large truck crashes, a nationally representative sample was selected.  Each crash in the LTCCS sample involved at least one large truck and resulted in a fatality or injury.
The total LTCCS sample of 963 crashes involved 1,123 large trucks and 959 motor vehicles that were not large trucks.  The 963 crashes resulted in 249 fatalities and 1,654 injuries.  Of the 1,123 large trucks in the sample, 77 percent were tractors pulling a single semi-trailer, and 5 percent were trucks carrying hazardous materials.  Of the 963 crashes in the sample, 73 percent involved a large truck colliding with at least one other vehicle.

National Crash Estimates
According to NHTSA’s estimate, there were approximately 120,000 fatal and injury crashes nationwide during the 33-month study period that involved at least one large truck; 141,000 large trucks were involved in those crashes.  Each of the 963 LTCCS study cases was assigned a sampling weight, which allows for national estimates of total fatal and injury truck crashes during the study period.
All study results presented here are national estimates for the 141,000 large trucks that were estimated by NHTSA to have been involved in fatal and injury crashes during the study period.  The estimates may differ from true values, because they are based on a probability sample of crashes and not a census of all crashes.  The size of the difference may vary, depending on which LTCCS sample is the focus of a particular table or analysis.
Table 1
Estimated Numbers of Trucks in All Crashes, by Critical Reasons


Critical Reasons

Number of Trucks

Percent of Total

Driver

68,000

87%

    Non-Performance

9,000

12%

    Recognition

22,000

28%

    Decision

30,000

38%

    Performance

7,000

9%

Vehicle

8,000

10%

Environment

2,000

3%

Total Number of Large Trucks Coded with Critical Reason

78,000

100%

Total Number of Large Trucks Not Coded with Critical Reason

63,000

Total Number of Large Trucks Involved in Crashes

141,000

Notes: Results shown are national estimates for the 141,000 large trucks estimated to have been involved in fatal and injury crashes during the study period.  The estimates may differ from true values, because they are based on a probability sample of crashes and not a census of all crashes.  Estimates are rounded to the nearest 1,000 large trucks.  

Table 2 shows the 19 associated factors that were coded most frequently for large trucks in the LTCCS, where there was a statistically significant association between the factor and the assignment of the critical reason.  The order of the factors in the table is based on the number and percentage of trucks assessed with each factor.  The relative risk number is a ratio of the critical reason coding for trucks coded with the factor, compared with trucks not coded with the factor.  Thus, Table 2 shows that a truck with brake problems was 170 percent more likely to be coded with the critical reason for a crash than a truck that was not coded with the brake problems associated factor.  

Table 2
Associated Factors Assigned in Large Truck Crashes and Their Relative Risk Importance


Factors

Number of Trucks

Percent of Total

Relative Risk

Vehicle: Brake problems

41,000

29%

2.7

Driver: Traveling too fast for conditions

32,000

23%

7.7

Driver: Unfamiliar with roadway

31,000

22%

2.0

Environment: Roadway problems

29,000

20%

1.5

Driver: Over-the-counter drug use

25,000

17%

1.3

Driver: Inadequate surveillance

20,000

14%

9.3

Driver: Fatigue

18,000

13%

8.0

Driver: Felt under work pressure from carrier

16,000

10%

4.7

Driver: Made illegal maneuver

13,000

9%

26.4

Driver: Inattention

12,000

9%

17.1

Driver: External distraction

11,000

8%

5.1

Vehicle: Tire problems

8,000

6%

2.5

Driver: Following too close

7,000

5%

22.6

Driver: Jackknife

7,000

5%

4.7

Vehicle: Cargo shift

6,000

4%

56.3

Driver: Illness

4,000

3%

34.0

Driver: Internal distraction

3,000

2%

5.8

Driver: Illegal drugs

3,000

2%

1.8

Driver: Alcohol

1,000

1%

5.3

Notes: Results shown are national estimates for the 141,000 large trucks estimated to have been involved in fatal and injury crashes during the study period.  The estimates may differ from true values, because they are based on a probability sample of crashes and not a census of all crashes.  Estimates are rounded to the nearest 1,000 large trucks.

Of the top 10 associated factors coded for large trucks, 3 do not appear in Table 2.  For those three associated factors—traffic flow interruption, prescription drug use, and required to stop before crash—there was no significant difference in the frequency at which trucks with and without the factors were coded with the critical reason for a crash.

It is important to note both the number of times an associated factor is coded and its relative risk ratio.  For example, the brake problems associated factor is the most frequently coded (29 percent), but it has a lower relative risk ratio than those for 13 other factors.  Pre-crash cargo shift, with the highest relative risk ratio (56.3), was reported for only 4 percent of the large trucks involved in LTCCS crashes.

Of the 19 factors listed in Table 2, 15 are driver factors.  Those 15 driver factors can be divided into two major groups.  One group—fatigue, illness, and drug use (both legal and illegal)—reflects the condition of the driver before the crash.  The other group—excessive speed, inadequate surveillance, illegal maneuver, inattention, distraction (outside the truck and inside the truck), and following too close—reflects driving mistakes.

Large Truck – Passenger Vehicle Crashes
One-half of the LTCCS crashes involved collisions between a large truck and a passenger vehicle (car, pickup truck, van, or sport utility vehicle).  In those crashes, the same associated factors coded most often for the large trucks usually were also coded most often for the passenger vehicles.  For both large trucks and passenger vehicles, there was a statistically significant link between the following 10 associated factors (listed in descending order according to how often they were coded for the large truck) and coding of the critical reason:

There are some important differences in the coding of associated factors between the two vehicle types.  For large trucks, but not passenger vehicles, following too closely (a traffic situation that required a stop before the crash) and distraction outside the vehicle were statistically related to assignment of the critical reason.  In addition, vehicle factors that were not coded or examined for the passenger vehicles (brakes, tires, jackknife, and cargo shift) were statistically linked to assignment of the critical reason for large trucks.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a serious truck accident, contact one of our experienced truck accident lawyers at Gordon Elias & Seely, L.L.P. Call toll free at 800 - 773 - 6770!

Content Related to Topic


Extracted from:
TRUCKS INVOLVED IN FATAL ACCIDENTS FACTBOOK 2000
Center for National Truck Statistics
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

 

Content Related to Topic


Trucking injuries can be prevented if passenger vehicle drivers take special care when driving near tractor-trailers. If a trucking collision does occur, record as much information as possible, including names and contact information of witnesses.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) gathered crash statistics for large trucks and buses involved in fatal and non-fatal crashes that occurred in the United States. The information was gathered from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).

Preliminary national crash facts collected by FARS and MCMIS:

  • 136,438 Large Trucks and 12,498 Buses Involved in Non-Fatal Crashes
  • 54,961 Large Trucks and 6,709 Buses Involved in Injury Crashes
  • 80,752 Injuries in Crashes Involving Large Trucks and 15,297 Injuries in Crashes Involving Buses
  • 81,477 Large Trucks and 5,789 Buses Involved in Tow-away Crashes
  • 2,231 Large Trucks and 10 Buses Involved in Hazmat (HM) Placard Crashes
The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If you need help with a Truck Accident claim, consult an experienced trucking accident attorney from the law offices of Gordon Elias & Seely, L.L.P. by calling TOLL FREE: 800 - 773 - 6770 OR by filling out the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page.
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