United States Commercial Trucking Accident Statistics

The United States economy depends on trucking to move its freight around. In fact, about 70% of everything you buy has reached the store where you bought it in a commercial truck. Trucking as an industry is not only foundational to American capitalism; it also provides thousands of well-paying jobs to American men and women every year.

A car with a smashed windshield and a commercial truck in the background.

However, 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks can pose a danger to everyone else on our highways and byways. Because of a truck’s much greater size and weight—tractor-trailers can weigh up to 30 times more than passenger vehicles—it takes them longer to stop and maneuver, which can lead to accidents. And when a truck and a passenger vehicle collide, it’s usually not the truck driver who suffers the most injuries.

If you or someone you know was involved in a commercial truck accident in Louisiana, it’s best to get in touch with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can help make sure you’re aware of all of your legal options.

American Truck Accidents: How Many Semi Truck Accidents Per Year?

Large Truck Crashes Killed More Than 3,000 Individuals Each Year

According to commercial vehicle accident statistics compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), large truck crashes killed more than 3,000 individuals each year. Specifically, in 2020, the number of fatalities reached 4,014. 

This figure reveals a distressing trend as it indicates a notable 28% increase in truck accident-related deaths compared to the statistics recorded in 2009. It’s disheartening to see such an upward trajectory in these tragic incidents.

Why are Trucking Accidents a Serious Issue: Truck Driver Deaths in 2022

When it comes to truck driving accident statistics, in 2022, there were a significant number of truck driver fatalities in Louisiana. These tragic incidents underscore the importance of prioritizing truck driver safety and implementing effective measures to prevent such fatalities in the future.

Some facts worth noting include:

semi-truck speeding through tunnel
  • Estimates released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that the number of fatalities in accidents involving large trucks increased by 10% during the first half of 2022 compared to the previous year.
  • There were 2,811 deaths in crashes involving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds from January to June 2022.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced in May that it would resume looking at requiring speed-limiting systems in trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

Truck Accident Facts: What Causes Big Truck Wrecks?

Every truck wreck is unique, with varying causes and outcomes. However, according to semi-truck accident statistics, certain common factors often emerge in these incidents. These factors contribute to a better understanding of the patterns associated with truck accidents. 

Most crashes involving large trucks are caused by common factors like: 

semi-truck tire blow out
  • Tire defects cause 30% of all truck accidents, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Tractor trailers have eighteen tires, or fourteen more opportunities for a blow-out, than most passenger cars. The number of wheels also greatly increases the maintenance burden on truck owners and operators. All of these factors combine to a major risk on the highway.
  • Studies show that aggressive driving is responsible for another 5% of truck accidents. Because trucks take longer to speed up, slow down, and maneuver, they can aggravate some drivers, leading to aggressive and dangerous driving and possibly a wreck.
  • Another main cause of truck accidents every year is sleep deprivation. Truckers work under tight deadlines requiring long hours behind the wheel, and while there are strict regulations on driving and resting time, fatigue is still a major factor in about 100,000 truck accidents a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Even though big rigs are extremely dangerous in a collision with a passenger car, the fact is that cars are responsible for 80% of truck accidents. Often, car drivers overestimate the truck driver’s abilities to maneuver around their actions, resulting in a collision.

Analyzing these truck accident statistics can help identify potential areas for improvement in road safety and accident prevention measures.

Commercial Vehicle Accidents: Common Times and Locales

Researchers with the National Safety Council studied 2020 truck accidents and discovered the following statistics:

  • Truck accidents were roughly split between rural and urban settings, with slightly more (54.46%) happening on rural roads.
  • Roughly 3/4 (73.29%) of trucking accidents happen on non-interstate roads, such as surface streets, state and federal highways, and others. This makes some intuitive sense since non-interstate thoroughfares often have much more complex traffic patterns, including ingress, egress, lane shifting, stops, and more.
  • Surprisingly, more truck accidents happen during the day (63.45%) than at night (36.55%). This could be because, even though drivers have less visibility at night, there are fewer of them or they’re more careful, but of course confirming that would take further study.
  • The vast majority (95.41%) of all trucking accidents happen outside of active work zones.

What Should I Do If I’m in a Truck Accident?

Gordon McKernan, The Lawyer on the Truck

We at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys have developed some tips for what you should do after being involved in an 18-wheeler crash. Immediately pull over to a safe location and call 911, if you can. The first responders on the scene will be able to address your injuries and your passengers, and the police report can serve as an official record of what happened.

After the accident, you should report it to your insurance, but don’t accept their initial offer. Because insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they will attempt to resolve your case as quickly and as cheaply as possible. However, their first offer will likely be nowhere near enough to pay for all of your damages and injuries.

Instead, reach out to Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys for a FREE legal consultation. A dedicated truck accident lawyer will listen to your situation and advise on what compensation you could expect. We’ll help you file paperwork and motions, find evidence, talk to witnesses, and even take your case to court. We won’t charge you a dime until we win or settle your case. Call us today.