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Critical Facts & Stats: Large Truck Accidents

a traffic jam on a highway featuring cars, semis, and 18-wheelers

There are roughly 3.5 million trucks on U.S. roads at any given time. Each year, large truck drivers travel tens of billions of miles to deliver goods and necessities to warehouses and stores. The vast majority of these drivers are cautious and hardworking.

Sometimes, though, a driver is underqualified, makes a mistake, or experiences a mechanical malfunction. Driver error, negligent maintenance, exploitive company practices, foul weather, and more can lead to devastating wrecks and serious injuries.

Here are the top statistics you need to know about truck accident injuries and fatalities.

Truck Injuries and Deaths

Roughly 130,000 individuals are injured each year in large truck collisions. In 2018, more than 4,000 people were killed in truck accidents.

According to the IIHS, of those who died in a truck accident 67% were car occupants, 16% were truck occupants, and 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. In two-vehicle crashes involving one passenger vehicle and one large truck, 96% of occupants who perished were in the passenger vehicle.

Nearly 17% of fatal large truck crashes involved a passenger car rear-ending the truck; less than 4% are caused by a truck rear-ending a passenger car. Oncoming passenger cars drifting into the truck's lane and causing a head-on collision accounted for 18% of fatal truck crashes; the same only occurs about 2% of the time when a large truck drifts into a passenger car's lane. Most other fatal truck accidents were side-impact crashes.

Work Zone Deaths

Workers in construction zones are the most vulnerable when it comes to negligent drivers and auto accidents. They are far more exposed, often mere feet away from speeding traffic and heavy-duty vehicles.

In 2019, there were 248 fatal work zone crashes involving trucks that weighed more than 10,000 pounds. In that same year, 33% of work zone fatal crashes and 14% of work zone injury crashes involved at least one large truck.

Truck Driver Responsibility

At least one driver-related factor was recorded for one-third of truck drivers in fatal crashes (compare this to more than half of passenger car drivers in fatal crashes). These were the most common driver-related factors:

  • speeding
  • distraction or inattention
  • impairment (fatigue, alcohol, illness, etc.)
  • failure to yield
  • careless driving

Statistics like these are why it’s so important for anyone injured in a tractor-trailer accident or with a large vehicle to not admit fault until all the facts are uncovered by the police and investigating legal team.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Truck drivers are required to have a CDL in order to operate large, specialized vehicles that are heavy/oversized or designed to carry multiple passengers. The CDL application process and road test try to ensure only the most qualified and responsible drivers get behind the wheel of a large vehicle.

However, of the large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes, 20% of them did not have a CDL. Others had CDLs that were expired, revoked, or suspended. If these drivers were working for a company and the company knew about the CDL issue or didn’t check, that can provide a serious case for negligence.

Truck Accident Claim

Behind every truck wreck statistic is a story of pain and suffering.

Victims of accidents involving tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, construction vehicles, and delivery trucks may suffer severe head trauma, internal organ damage, broken bones, amputated limbs, and spinal cord injuries. If they survive the impact and subsequent injuries, they must often endure the long road to recovery and may face permanent disability.

Injured victims who did nothing wrong deserve to be compensated for their losses. They don’t deserve to pay outrageous hospital bills or worry about how they are going to pay their bills in the future.

Contact our Atlanta truck accident lawyers at Gary Martin Hays & Associates for a free consultation about your case. We protect injured truck accident victims from predatory insurance companies and make sure your needs and concerns are heard.

Further Reading:

Attorneys Gary Martin Hays and Sarah R. Jett wrote the best-selling book The Authority on Tractor-Trailer Wreck Claims in Georgia. You can read a short excerpt from it about how our firm investigates and gathers facts after a truck accident.


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