Truck accidents is the umbrella term used to describe auto accidents involving a large truck. Most often, these trucks are 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers or other trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Many drivers are terrified of driving near large trucks due to their size and weight. When these trucks are involved in accidents, the result is often catastrophic damage and serious injuries. Depending on the type of cargo they are carrying, truck accidents can also impact the safety of the road, the environment, and normal traffic flow.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand why so many people are afraid of being involved in a truck accident. Unfortunately, every year, millions of lives are affected by truck accidents in some way. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant data about truck accidents in the United States.
Alarming Statistics about Truck Accidents in the United States
Truck accidents are far more common than most people realize. They also make up a significant percentage of auto accidents considering how few trucks there are on the road compared to passenger vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that trucks make up only around four percent of the more than 260 million vehicles on U.S. roadways. However, trucks are involved in around one out of every 10 fatal auto accidents.
If that isn’t enough, consider this information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their most recent data available from 2018 shows:
- There were 4,136 fatalities in truck accidents
- 67% of those who died were occupants of other passenger vehicles
- Only 16% of those who died were in the truck
- 15% of those who died were riding a bicycle or motorcycle, or were a pedestrian
- 74% of truck accidents involved a tractor-trailer
- 27% of truck accidents involved a single-unit truck
- 52% of truck accidents occur on major roadways
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents involve both commercial and non-commercial vehicles. No matter how large or small, empty or full, or experienced the driver – truck accidents are often the result of the same few common causes. These include:
- Distracted Driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Fatigued or drowsy driving
- Impairment with alcohol or drugs
- Mechanical failure
Only around five percent of fatal truck accidents involve mechanical failure. The most common causes of these accidents are driver-related issues.
Why Truck Accidents are So Serious
Truck accidents are more serious than other accidents because of a few factors. The most obvious factor is that trucks are incredibly large and heavy compared to other vehicles. But why does that make accidents more catastrophic? Consider the following:
- Large trucks take longer to stop when they are at a reasonable or high speed. That makes trucks more likely to strike other vehicles or objects at a higher rate of speed.
- Truck drivers have less visibility than other drivers.
- Many large trucks carry hazardous materials that cause additional damage.
- Large trucks are more likely to tip or roll over during a collision.
- Truck drivers are more likely to suffer from fatigue, which can slow reaction time and cause the driver to be reckless.
- Trucks sit higher than passenger vehicles, so in an accident, smaller vehicles may pass underneath the truck causing catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
What to Do after a Truck Accident
If you are involved in a truck accident that was not your fault, the first thing you should do is contact a truck accident attorney. A truck accident attorney can help you understand exactly what happened and what options you have to get compensation for your injuries. Whether it is negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, or filing a personal injury lawsuit, a lawyer is your best chance of securing maximum compensation.