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What Percentage of Accidents Are Caused by Trucks?

Published on May 21, 2024 at 7:43 pm in Truck Accident, Uncategorized.

What Percentage of
Accidents Are Caused by Trucks?

We hear about severe accidents with 18-wheelers all the time and how devastating and deadly wrecks with large trucks can be. And we see these accidents in the news or drive past them on the road and often we wonder if anyone survived or what makes large trucks so dangerous that they’re always getting into accidents. 

But are these big vehicles involved in more accidents, or is it due to their size and the damage they cause that we just hear more about them? What percentage of accidents are caused by trucks? 

Read on to find out. 

What Does the Data Say About the Rate At Which Truckers Cause Crashes? 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that large trucks make up 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 5% of all vehicles involved in injury or property-damage-only accidents. This leads us back to the main question: “What percentage of accidents are caused by trucks?” Let’s take a look at some statistics to find out more. 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data from 2021 shows there were over 13.8 million large trucks registered that year, approximately 5% of all registered vehicles in the United States.

An estimated 117,000 of those trucks were involved in injury crashes, and 5,700 were involved in fatal collisions that led to 5,788 total deaths. This means that out of the total 39,508 fatal crashes on U.S. roadways in 2021, approximately 14.4% involved large trucks. 

Additional crash statistics shared by NHTSA, as described above, show that there were 1,381 total vehicles involved in fatal crashes in Louisiana specifically in 2021, with only 126 (9.1%) of those being large trucks.

Out of the 135 people killed in these crashes, 96 of them were riding in or on other vehicles, while only 23 of the decedents were occupants of the large trucks. 

So, if such a small percentage of fatal crashes involve large trucks, why do we hear more about accidents involving these vehicles than with others? It helps to understand what causes these accidents to occur. 

Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents 

Trucks carry enormous amounts of weight, often up to 80,000 pounds when the trailer is loaded.

When a vehicle that large and that heavy is involved in an accident with a smaller passenger car, the results are devastating and deadly, usually more for the occupants of the passenger car than for the occupants of the truck. And, as with most other types of vehicle collisions, semi-truck crashes are typically caused by driver error, such as distracted driving or speeding.  

Previously cited FMCSA data shows that 31.9% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks had at least one driver-related factor recorded. These are the factors with the largest recorded percentages: 

  • Speeding of any kind: 7%
  • Distraction or inattention (cell phone, eating, etc.): 4.9%
  • Careless driving or driving without due care: 4.7%
  • Failure to yield to the right of way: 4.5%
  • Impairment (alcohol, fatigue, illness, etc.): 4.2%

In addition to driver-related factors, every reported traffic crash is given a reason for the crash occurring. And, in the case of large truck accidents, the FMCSA also keeps statistics for critical precrash events that result in a fatality, injury, and property damage.  

The top reason in each crash category is: 

  • Fatal: 2,053 (36%) of these crashes occur because a smaller vehicle encroaches into the large truck’s lane (i.e., a passenger car enters it from another lane, street, driveway, highway entrance, etc., causing an imminent collision) 
  • Injury: 39,000 (33.4%) of these wrecks occur while a vehicle is traveling in the large truck’s lane (i.e., another vehicle already in the same lane as the truck did something, leading to an immediate crash) 
  • Property Damage Only: 155,000 (38.7%) of these wrecks occur when a large truck is moving (i.e., turning, crossing lines, or traveling through an intersection) 

The previously referenced NHTSA resource shows that truckers had the highest percentage (20.8%) of previously recorded crashes on their driving record than any other type of motorist.

That same data revealed that they truck drivers also had a high percentage of speeding convictions (19.3%), second only to motorcycles. Interestingly, however, tractor-trailer operators had the lowest percentage of driving under the influence (DUI) convictions or license revocations or suspensions at 0.8% and 6.5%, respectively. 

Truckers are known to drive long hours and push their limits as well as that of their trucks, and when they do, disastrous results often occur. You shouldn’t have to suffer due to a truck driver’s poor decisions. 

If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by a large truck in Baton Rouge or anywhere in Louisiana, know that our legal team at Bianca | Matkins is here to help.

We have the necessary knowledge to assist with any concerns or questions you may have, and we want you to know that our first conversation is always free. 

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