No one likes driving next to trucks. They’re big, slow, and if they make one wrong move, it can change your life. Truck driving has been listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States on almost every list. However, while driving a truck is dangerous, it is all the more dangerous to be hit by one. In 97% of crashes with at least two vehicles that involve a large truck, the passengers and drivers of the other vehicles pay the ultimate price – not the truck driver.
The following list of the deadliest years in trucking is compiled mostly using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Data was also retrieved from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, or if you lost a loved one to a truck crash, talk to a lawyer. The national truck accident attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team work across the country to help injured trucking victims and the survivors of trucking victims get the compensation they need to move on with their lives.
Statistics for truck crash deaths are tracked as far back as 1975. While the most recent year with available data is 2015, this still gives us 40 years of data to look at to understand the impact that trucking regulation and improvements in safety standards have had over the years.
The following years are ranked based on the number of truck accident fatalities for the drivers and passengers of other cars. The causes of these truck accidents may vary, but the numbers still show the dangers of truck accidents.
With 3,833 occupants of other cars killed in truck-related accidents, this is one of three years from the 80s that makes it onto our list. Keep in mind that trucking was not nearly as regulated in the 80s as it is today. In fact, in 1980, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was passed, which actively deregulated the trucking industry. This allowed a greater number of trucking companies to take to the road, increasing truck traffic over the decade.
Right at the end of the decade, the 80s still saw another of the worst years for truck accidents. 3,847 drivers and passengers were killed in truck-related accidents.
It seems strange that such a recent year would be in the top 10 deadliest years for trucking. In 2000, 3,863 drivers and passengers of other vehicles were killed in truck-related accidents. January 1, 2000 saw the birth of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as part of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. With the goal of writing regulations to improve safety in the trucking industry, the FMCSA clearly fell short of its goal in its first year.
The 90s seems to be one of the worst decades for truck accidents. With the increased number of trucking companies stemming from decisions made in the 80s, the 90s saw a lot more truck traffic on the roads. With 182,971,000,000 miles traveled by trucks in the United States, 1996 had nearly 5 billion more miles of truck driving than the previous year. This resulted in a total of 3,866 deaths for drivers and passengers of other cars.
It is unsurprising that the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 was passed during the 6th most deadly year for truck accidents. With 3,916 deaths for other car occupants in truck-related accidents, the government truly needed to step up regulation and improve safety standards.
With 3,938 deaths in other cars, 1988 stands as the fifth deadliest year in US trucking, and the deadliest year in the 80s. Despite having two other deadly years for 80s trucking – 1987 and 1989 – 1988 saw nearly 100 more deaths than the other years.
In our first year from the 70s, it is astounding that 1978 saw 3,954 deaths. With only 105,739,000,000 miles of road traveled by trucks, 1978 had the most deaths per mile traveled of this list.
Before the turn of the century, America’s roads were plagued by dangerous, poorly regulated trucking. 1998’s 3,981 deaths are evidence of the dangers drivers faced from truck accidents.
Along with 1998 and 1999, we can see that the end of the 90s was one of the worst times to be on the road alongside trucks. Unfortunately for the 3,992 who died in other cars because of truck-related accidents, their deaths were not enough to spur stricter regulations.
The single deadliest year in trucking was 1979. Right before trucking deregulation really picked up, we had the most dangerous year for other drivers who are forced to share the road with dangerous trucks. Despite this, the government decreased regulations, and it wasn’t until the 2000s that things really started to improve
What About the Modern Era?
Luckily, 2009 through 2015 are the safest years for trucking. Hopefully the statistics from 2016 and 2017 fall in line with this increased safety, once those numbers are available. However, if you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, it is important to talk to an attorney.
The lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team may be able to help you seek compensation for injuries or for the death of a loved one. Compensation from dangerous trucking companies may be available to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call our lawyers today for a free consultation at (215) 709-6940.