Truck accidents are often catastrophic for the victims involved. They are some of the most dangerous types of collisions on the road, involving trucks that can weigh more than 80,000 pounds – about 20 times more than the average passenger car. Truck accidents, injuries, and deaths are almost always preventable. Yet every year, thousands of people lose their lives and suffer life-changing injuries in accidents with commercial trucks. Talk to a Dallas truck accident lawyer if you have been injured in a semi truck-related accident.
How Often Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Truck accident facts from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration state that close to 4,700 large trucks had involvement in fatal accidents in 2017. This was a 10% increase from 4,251 trucks in 2016. In addition, 107,000 injury crashes and 363,000 property-damage-only accidents involved big rigs in 2017. Most fatal truck accidents occurred in rural areas (57%) and interstate highways (27%). Thirty-five percent (35%) occurred at night.
Truck accidents involved hazardous materials in 3% of fatal large truck crashes and 2% of nonfatal crashes in 2017. The first harmful event in the majority of fatal truck accidents (74%) in 2017 was the collision with a vehicle in transport. Rollover was the first event in 4% of fatal truck accidents. About 5% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents (252 total drivers) tested positive for drugs.
Statistics for 2018 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety state that 4,136 victims lost their lives in collisions with large trucks. The majority (67%) of these deaths were passenger vehicle occupants, while 16% were truck occupants and 15% were motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians. Sixty-two percent (62%) of accidents that killed large truck occupants involved other large trucks, in multiple-vehicle crashes. In 2018, 11% of all traffic fatalities involved large trucks.
Why They Happen
Truck accidents occur more often than most drivers realize. It is a common assumption that large trucks are safe due to federal regulations. In reality, however, many trucking companies cut corners to save time and money on transports. People die every day in preventable commercial trucking accidents, including rollovers, jackknife accidents, rear-end collisions, underride accidents, and head-on collisions. Most of these accidents stem from the same few causes.
- Speeding was the most common driver-related cause of fatal truck accidents in 2017. Speeding can refer to driving faster than the speed limit or too fast for conditions. If it is raining or snowing, for example, a truck driver may need to slow down to below the speed limit.
- Distraction/inattention. Driver distraction or inattention was the second most common driver-related crash cause. Driver distractions often include cellphones, food and drink, the radio, passengers, personal grooming, and things happening outside the cab.
- Drug and alcohol involvement was the third leading cause of fatal truck accidents in 2017. Impaired truck drivers may be unable to safely control their rigs, leading to catastrophic collisions.
- Truck defects. A truck defect can refer to manufacturing mistakes – such as bad brakes – maintenance errors or cargo loading issues. It is a trucking company’s responsibility to properly load and maintain its trucks. Failure to do so can contribute to tire blowouts, lost cargo loads, rollover accidents and other problems.
- Dangerous roads. Some fatal truck accidents start with a roadway hazard or defect, such as a pothole, uneven shoulder, dangerously designed road, malfunctioning traffic light or obscured stop sign. It is the city’s responsibility to adequately maintain its roads and highways.
Recognizing why truck accidents and crashes happen can help drivers avoid the most common risks and potentially prevent collisions. Trucking companies and their drivers cause many collisions, while others stem from mistakes on the passenger vehicle driver’s part. Either way, most truck accidents are preventable. After a serious truck accident that causes injuries or deaths, the at-fault party may be liable for victims’ damages.