Fast Facts on Truck Crash Fatalities
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration ran a report in 2015 that recognized numerous health, safety, and environmental risks of trucking. In it, they recognized that, not only do trucks account for over a quarter of all gasoline use in vehicles and produce over 75% of the carbon emissions from freight transportation, but they are also dangerous in a practical way.
According to that report’s statistics, there were 32,719 deaths on highways in 2013. While 2.1% of those deaths were truck occupants, 10% of those deaths were the occupants of regular passenger vehicles involved in crashes with trucks. Trucks should not be responsible for 10% of highway deaths, especially when truck drivers are held to higher standards of training and certification.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, is an organization that is often quoted for vehicle and highway safety statistics. Much of the data in this article comes from their annual reports, which can be found here. Our truck accident lawyers explain more below.
Most Deaths from Trucks are in Head-on Collisions
People who drive on highways often spend a lot of time next to trucks. This can be scary, especially for those who drive smaller sedans and hatchbacks over SUVs and pick-up trucks. In reality, in 2015 at least, only 3% of deaths in crashes with trucks were due to side-to-side collisions. 12% were caused by cars crashing head-on into the side of trucks, but the most fatal crashes involving a car and a truck were head-on collisions.
29% of all deaths in truck crashes with regular cars were front-to-front crashes. Whether this involved the truck or the car veering into oncoming traffic, it is astounding that so many head-on collisions could occur.
Trucks are heavy behemoths and, once they get going, it is hard to slow them down again. They generally weigh twenty to thirty times what a regular car weighs, and stop in a distance that is twenty to forty times longer than that of a regular car. This, of course, can be even worse if the driver’s reaction time is slowed from being tired, drunk, or drugged. Wet or icy road conditions can make this problem even worse.
In Most Truck Crashes, Truckers are Okay – Others Are Not
It always seems that, in auto accidents, the driver who is most at fault walks away from the crash in the best condition. We have all heard stories of drunk drivers walking away from crashes, while passengers and other drivers lose their lives. Trucking is tragically similar. In the aforementioned Federal Highway Administration statistics from 2013, while truck drivers accounted for 2.1% of driving fatalities, 10% of deaths were the other drivers and passengers in truck crashes.
Looking at these statistics from another angle, in all truck crashes that resulted in death in 2013, 16% of the deaths were truck drivers and passengers; 15% of the deaths were bikers, cyclists, and pedestrians; and 67% of the deaths were the drivers and passengers of other, regular cars. The statistics for 2014 and 2015 were also available, and show nearly identical numbers. Luckily, these percentages of deaths are actually down over the past ten years. Compared to 2002’s whopping 75% of deaths in passenger vehicles and 14% in trucks, or the consistent trend in the 1990s of approximately 75% passenger car deaths in truck crashes.
Trucks are bigger than anything else on the road (except busses and construction equipment). It only makes sense that when a truck crashes into another car, the bigger, heavier vehicle will come out on top. Physics is simply against the drivers of normal cars. Despite the higher standards of training and licensure for truck drivers, it is still obvious that trucks are too dangerous around other vehicles.
Trends in Truck Accidents
While there are still, annually, over 3,000 deaths due to truck accidents, we are actually in a period of some of the lowest numbers of truck crash deaths in recent history. The first year to see less than 4,000 truck crash deaths since before 1975 (when the IIHS started recording truck crash data), was 2009. In 2009, truck crash deaths dropped by nearly 1,000 from 2008.
Since then, though, truck crash deaths have been steadily growing again. As of 2015, truck crash deaths were back up to 3,852 deaths, again approaching 2008’s 4,017 deaths. Since the Federal Highway Administration only expects the amount of truck freight to go up in the following years, there will only be a greater risk of truck crashes, and a greater risk of those crashes being fatal.
Speak With a Truck Accident Attorney If You Were Injured
While any injury from a crash with a truck is terrible, deaths from truck crashes are especially tragic. Fortunately, if you or a loved one was injured in a crash with a tractor-trailer, or you have lost a loved one to a tractor-trailer crash, the Truck Accident Team may be able to help you. The Truck Accident Team represents clients nationwide who have been injured by Big Trucking, and helps to get them the financial compensation they deserve. For help fighting trucking companies, call (215) 246-9000.