Statistics show that more people are dying in accidents involving large trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published data showing that there were 4,317 fatalities resulting from large truck accidents in 2016, of which 722 were truck occupants. Both numbers were up from 2015 statistics, which showed 4,094 total fatalities and 665 truck occupant fatalities.
Gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more qualifies a vehicle as a large truck. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of registered large trucks increased from 11.2 million to 11.5 million. The majority of large truck accidents resulting in fatalities, 61%, occurred in rural areas.
In urban areas, truck accidents are more likely to occur on arterial roads and interstates. By contrast, rural truck accidents are more likely to occur on local roads. Collector roads, i.e., those that connect the local roads to interstates and other main arteries, are a common site of rural truck crashes, as well. Rural interstate highways were the site of approximately 13% of all fatal truck crashes. Large truck crashes occur twice as often at urban intersections than rural ones, 32% and 16%, respectively.
Other contributing factors
The two most common driver-related factors cited in large truck accidents are speeding of any kind and inattention/distraction. The majority of fatal truck crashes happen on weekends, while two-thirds occur during daylight hours. It appears that alcohol is only rarely a factor in fatal truck crashes. Only 2% of truck drivers involved in a fatal collision demonstrated a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08%.
Trucks hauling two or more trailers accounted for 3.1% of all fatal crashes, while 62% involved trucks hauling only one semi-trailer. Trucks hauling hazardous materials comprised 4% of all fatal crashes.
FMCSA data indicates that passenger vehicles crash far more often than large trucks. However, the occupants of trucks represent only a small portion of the people who most often lose their lives in commercial vehicle accidents.