Whether you call them semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, or big rigs, you can’t deny that large trucks are sometimes intimidating on the road – and for good reason. Accidents involving semi-trucks have a high rate of severe injuries and deaths when compared with other types of motor vehicle accidents. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that 4,136 people were killed in the United States in 2018 in collisions with large trucks. Reviewing semi-truck accident statistics can be illuminating.
Semi-Truck Accident Statistics and What They Reveal
Deadlier Than Passenger Vehicles
As reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) in its Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report for 2017, 4,761 people died that year in crashes with large trucks. That same year, a total of 37,133 people were killed in all types of motor vehicle accidents. So despite large trucks accounting for a small percentage of the types of vehicles on the roads, they were responsible for 12.8 percent of the year’s traffic deaths.
Passengers Vehicle Occupants Most at Risk
The IIHS reports that out of the 4,136 fatalities that occurred in large truck crashes in 2018, 67 percent were passenger vehicle occupants; 15 percent were bicyclists, motorcyclists, or pedestrians; and 16 percent were truck occupants. So in collisions with large trucks, passenger vehicle occupants appear to be the most likely to suffer fatal injuries.
In 2017, FMCSA reported that at least one driver-related factor was identified in 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal accidents, with speeding being the most common driver-related factor. The second-most common factor was inattentive or distracted driving. It’s important to remember that semi-truck accidents are caused by multiple factors in many cases. Sometimes multiple drivers are partially negligent, which may complicate legal proceedings.
Impact of Weight and Size Differences
A contributing factor to most fatal collisions is the weight and size disparity between large trucks and passenger vehicles. A semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. By comparison, an average full-size passenger car weighs around 5,000 pounds. Because large trucks are so heavy, they have a much harder time coming to a full stop and require greater braking distances.
For example, if a 4,000-pound passenger vehicle and an 80,000-pound large truck were both traveling at 65 miles per hour when they began to brake, the semi-truck would travel about 209 more feet before it came to a stop. (The passenger vehicle would go about 316 feet while braking, and the semi-truck would travel about 525 feet.) The faster a semi-truck is going, the longer the distance it will require to come to a stop after braking.
In addition, the size and weight of a semi-truck as compared to a smaller vehicle mean that greater physical forces are released upon impact, leading to more severe injuries and deaths.
Are You the Victim of a Semi-Truck Accident?
As these semi-truck accident statistics convey, collisions with large trucks can result in permanent injuries or fatalities. If you have suffered serious injuries or lost your loved one in a semi-truck accident, you should talk to the experienced truck accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 417-322-2222 or sending us a message online.