Truck Accident Statistics
The trucking industry keeps America’s wheels turning, delivering 71% of all freight in the U.S annually. The $700 billion industry is also one of the largest employers in the country, employing more than 5% of full-time employees.
Truck deliveries serve as a lifeline between products and consumers. Everything from essential items like groceries and medicine to online shopping orders relies on truck traffic to transport it successfully across the country. Truck drivers may also step in during disasters, delivering much-needed supplies and ensuring that critical aid reaches the communities that need it most. Yet, despite our reliance on big rig transport, these vehicles can carry a truckload of safety risks for other drivers on the road.
+ Who Are Truck Drivers?
Across the United States, around 3.36 million truck drivers work to deliver goods across the country. About 7.65 million people work in “jobs that relate to trucking activity.” The trucking industry employs around 5.8 percent of the U.S. workforce. These numbers do not include self-employed individuals who may complete the same responsibilities but who may not work for a large trucking company.
Around 91.5 percent of carriers operate six or fewer trucks, while about 97.4 percent operate fewer than 20 trucks. These small companies may help keep America running and ensure that cargo reaches its destination on time.
Truck drivers are 9 percent female and 91 percent male. White truck drivers make up about 63 percent of the industry, followed by Hispanics and Latinos at 18.1 percent and Black truck drivers at 13 percent.
Truck drivers have an average age of 48. That age increases yearly as the truck driver shortage continues, and many employers have difficulty finding new employees to fill those roles.
Texas has more truck drivers than any other state, with around 172,000 people employed as truck drivers. California comes in second, with 130,000 truck drivers. Next, Pennsylvania, at third, has about 80,000 truck drivers.
Accidents Caused by Semi Truck Drivers: By the Numbers
Each year, around 4,600 fatal accidents involving semi-truck drivers occur. About 182,000 people suffer injuries in crashes with large trucks and buses annually.
Accidents involving semi trucks often cause substantial injury due to the much larger size of a big truck. A fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That can mean a lot of force hitting a driver, especially when the accident involves a smaller passenger vehicle.
Identifying the complex causes of semi-truck accidents can require thorough investigations. In many cases, a truck accident claim will mean a complicated investigation into all the elements that may potentially have contributed to the accident.
How Many Accidents are Caused by Semi-Trucks?
Large trucks were involved in 112,000 injury crashes and 414,000 property damage-only crashes in 2018. Semi-trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times as much as other passenger vehicles on the road. This excess size makes crashes especially dangerous — in fact, the majority of deaths in semi-truck accidents are persons riding in passenger vehicles.
Truck Accident Causes
Like other vehicle crashes, truck accidents are complex. Several driver, vehicle, and environmental factors can help contribute to a crash. Driver fatigue, distracted driving, and driving under the influence are three factors that can greatly increase the risk of collision. Here are some more common causes of big rig accidents.
32% of truck accidents involve collisions outside of the travel lane, either in other lanes or off the road.FMCSA
Truck drivers drive an estimated 140 billion miles every year, and they work longer hours than average workers in America — this fatigue contributes to crashes.Z Modal
All truck drivers have had a handheld cell phone ban on interstate highways since 2012.FMCSA
6% of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for at least one drug in 2018.FMCSA
An estimated 29% of truck crashes involve vehicle loss of control, followed by colliding with the rear end of another vehicle (22%).FMCSA
Loaded-tractor trailers need up to 40% more space to stop than passenger vehicles meaning the driver has less time to react to other drivers and road conditions.IIHS
A growing problem on the road, distracted driving often goes underreported but resulted in at least 2,841 lives lost in 2018.NHTSA
Most Dangerous Roads In U.S. For Truckers
Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., which isn’t surprising when paired with the fact that transportation is the number one cause of fatalities on the clock. Sadly, some roads are more dangerous for truck drivers than others.
Here’s a list of the 10 most dangerous roads in the U.S.:
- I-10 in Alabama
- I-95 in Florida
- HWY-75 in Idaho
- I-40 in Arkansas
- US-1 in Florida
- M-20 in Michigan
- I-80 Nebraska
- HWY-5 in Colorado
- I-70 in Maryland
- SC-35 South Carolina
Semi-Truck Accident Statistics
Also known as tractor-trailers, semi-trucks are a necessary part of the delivery cycle. With 3.5 million truck drivers on the road each year, trucking accidents are bound to happen. Here’s a look at where and why these crashes occur.
Tractor-trailer trucks caused 46% more fatalities than single-unit trucks in 2018.IIHS
When it comes to crashes, tractor-trailers are the most dangerous trucks on the road.FMCSA
30% of truck and bus crashes in 2019 were in Texas, California, and Florida.FMCSA
Semi-trucks account for 42% of all miles driven by commercial vehicles on U.S. roadways.FHWA
In 2018, at least 112,000 injury crashes and 414,000 property damage-only crashes involved large trucks.FMCSA
Fatal Truck Accident Facts
Semi-truck accidents can quickly turn deadly. The size and density of the big rig play a role in damages and fatality rates. Read on to learn about the frequency of truck fatalities and where and when accidents are most likely to occur.
In 2018, 50% of deaths from large truck crashes occurred between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.IIHS
4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018, 31% higher than in 2009, when truck fatalities were the lowest ever recorded.IIHS
October was the deadliest month for truck crashes in 2018.NHTSA
Trucks account for nearly 1 in 10 highway deaths yet only make up 4% of vehicles on the road.IIHS
Deaths in large truck crashes are most likely to occur on major roads (52%), compared to interstates and freeways (33%) or minor roads (14%).IIHS
Most fatal truck crashes occur in rural areas, during the daytime, on weekdays.NHTSA
Large trucks are involved in 9% of fatal crashes on U.S. roadways.Injury Facts
Truck vs Car Accident Statistics
While trucks get a reputation for being dangerous, the truth is cars carry most of the blame for collisions on the road. In this section, we take a look at big rig accidents and how cars play a role.
Road crashes are predicted to be the 5th leading cause of death in the United States by 2030.WHO
Cars are responsible for anywhere from 80% to 91% of truck accidents.ATA
Of those who died in truck crashes in 2018, 67% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, 16% were truck occupants, and 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.IIHS
Speeding heightens fatality risk in truck and car accidents: 9,378 Americans lost their lives to speeding in 2018.NHTSA
More Truck Facts and Tips for Safe Fleet Management
Large trucks are considered any truck with a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 pounds, excluding buses and motorhomes. This increased size makes maintaining truck regulations key to safety on the road. Read on for more truck facts and tips for managing a truck fleet of your own.
There are more than 14,226,062 large trucks and buses registered in the U.S.FMCSA
The number of trucking businesses in the U.S. grew 15.9% from 2012 and 2016, outpacing growth across all industries (8%).U.S. Census Bureau
Trucking employs more than 3.5 million drivers and 5% of all full-time employees.U.S. Census Bureau
The average salary for an American truck driver is $43,252.U.S. Census Bureau
The weight of a tractor-trailer ranges between 5,000 pounds empty and up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded.FHWA
Drivers can’t log more than 60 hours over 7 consecutive days or 70 hours over 8 consecutive days per federal regulation.FMCSA
National weight standards are applied on the 40,000+ miles of Interstate Highway System.FHWA
How to Maintain a Safe Truck Fleet
As an employer, taking steps to maintain a safe truck fleet is top priority. It ensures that your employees are healthy, other motorists on the road aren’t at risk, and that your bottom line won’t be impacted by a tragic accident. Below are tips to minimize risk and keep your truck drivers safe on the roads.
- Use software to streamline and track truck maintenance New online tools are making record-keeping for truck maintenance easier than ever. Track and schedule service reminders, save driver preferences, and manage equipment usage with software.
- Never exceed the legal truck-weight Federal guidelines around truck weights help protect workers and other drivers on the road. Your gross vehicle weight should never exceed 80,000 pounds on any Interstate Highway in the U.S.
- Keep up with your tires Since tires won’t need to be changed out all at once or on a specific schedule, inspecting tire pressure and wear issues regularly is key to safe and smooth driving.
- Communicate regularly with your drivers Don’t let your drivers drive blind. Dispatchers should regularly inform drivers of road challenges, alternative routes, and last-minute changes.
- Instill pride with clean vehicles Keeping your vehicles clean and polished leads drivers to greater job satisfaction, plus it puts out a good company image for your brand.
- Crack down on drowsy driving Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence. Prioritize following federal hours of service regulations and don’t give driver’s dangerous incentives to log extra hours for faster deliveries.
Semi-truck accidents can cause a great deal of fear and stress. If you suffer injuries in a severe accident with a truck, contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon after the accident as possible to learn how you can get compensation.