U.S. Trucking Accidents: A State-by-State Analysis

Trucking plays a vital role in the U.S. economy, ensuring everyday goods are transported across the nation efficiently. However, with the increasing number of big rigs on the road, trucking accidents have become a huge concern for the trucking industry, public safety officials, and every motorist behind the wheel.

Each year, there are tens of thousands of trucking accidents, ranging from minor collisions to fatal crashes. Due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles, these accidents not only result in significant property damage but also lead to catastrophic injuries and loss of life.

In this article, the personal injury lawyers at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group compiled and analyzed 2022 data from numerous state and federal agencies to assess the level of danger posed by 18-wheelers and other large trucks. We put together a state-by-state breakdown of trucking accidents, including the deadliest states in America for large truck crashes, the most dangerous time of day for truck accidents, and the most common causes of crashes involving large trucks. We took an even closer look Texas, where we represent people who have been injured or a loved one killed in a collision with a commercial truck.

These alarming truck accident statistics underscore the need for stricter safety measures, better road infrastructure, and increased training for truck drivers. Victims of trucking accidents may be entitled to substantial compensation for funeral expenses, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Big Rig Accidents in U.S.

Big Rig Accidents in the United States

In the United States, trucking accidents are notoriously dangerous. Large trucks – including 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, and big rigs –  have a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds but can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. The sheer momentum when they collide with another vehicle can result in devastating consequences.

In 2022, there were more than 160,000 large truck crashes nationwide, resulting in more than 5,100 deaths and 73,000 injuries. When a crash occurs, both the truck drivers and their employing companies can be held liable. Victims or their affected family members should contact an experienced truck accident attorney if they have been injured or their loved one killed in a collision involving large trucks.

Top 5 States for Trucking Accidents

Trucking Terrors: Top 5 States with the Most Trucking Accidents

Texas Takes the Lead

Topping the list in both big truck wrecks and fatalities is Texas. With an astounding 18,607 large truck accidents and 784 fatalities, the Lone Star State’s vast expanse of highways and bustling industrial sectors make it a hub for dangerous trucking. The state’s vast and sometimes remote highways, combined with its economic prowess, contribute to a high volume of semi trucks and other big rigs, making accidents more probable.

California’s Congested Highways

Coming in second, California’s bustling cities and ports have contributed to a total of 13,292 large truck accidents. With 489 fatalities, the state’s scenic yet congested corridors, especially around cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, have proven perilous for truck drivers and commuters alike.

Florida’s Freight Flow

The Sunshine State of Florida ranks third with 8,915 truck accidents and 279 fatalities. Renowned for its tourism and agricultural exports, Florida sees a considerable flow of trucks carrying goods ranging from oranges to consumer products.

Illinois: Central Hub with High Numbers

Illinois, with its central location, acts as a pivotal junction for trucks traveling across the country. The state reported 7,454 accidents and 215 fatalities. Furthermore, the bustling interchanges around cities like Chicago, combined with its role as a primary connector between the East and West coasts, intensify the flow of truck traffic, raising the probability for accidents.

Pennsylvania: Crossroads of the Northeast

Situated at the crossroads of the Northeast, Pennsylvania had 7,388 trucking accidents and 177 tragic fatalities. Its dense road networks, connecting major cities and industrial areas, coupled with changing terrains from mountainous regions to urban hubs, have contributed to this alarming number. As trucks travel the state carrying goods from the ports of Philadelphia to the coal regions and beyond, vigilance on the roads is imperative.

States with the Fewest Large Truck Accidents

In 2022, Alaska was the safest place in terms of large truck accidents, followed by Hawaii and Rhode Island.

  • Alaska: 38 total truck accidents, with five fatalities
  • Hawaii: 109 total truck accidents, with 3 fatalities
  • Rhode Island: 159 total truck accidents, with 4 fatalities
  • Vermont: 167 total truck accidents, with 9 fatalities
  • South Dakota: 360 total truck accidents, with 20 fatalities

Trucking Accidents: State-by-State Breakdown

Trucking accidents are a nationwide concern but are more common in some states than others. Here’s a look at large truck crash statistics for all 50 states in 2022.

  • Total Number of Fatalities
  • Total Number of Injuries
  • Fatality Accidents
  • Non-Fatal Trucking Accidents
  • Total Number of Trucking Accidents in the United States (2022)

Alabama

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 4247
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 4104
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 143
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 160
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1836

Alaska

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 38
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 33
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 5
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 5
  • Total Number of Injuries: 15

Arizona

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2552
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2423
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 129
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 158
  • Total Number of Injuries: 465

Arkansas

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2793
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2708
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 85
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 99
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1148

California

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 13292
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 12852
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 440
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 489
  • Total Number of Injuries: 5406.

Colorado

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,931
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,846
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 85
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 96
  • Total Number of Injuries: 664

Connecticut

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents:1,493
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,467
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 31
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 96
  • Total Number of Injuries: 553

Delaware

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 598
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 581
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 17
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 18
  • Total Number of Injuries: 303

Florida

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 8915
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 8660
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 255
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 279
  • Total Number of Injuries: 4324

Georgia

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 6608
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 6390
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 218
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 246
  • Total Number of Injuries: 2,864

Hawaii

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 109
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 106
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 3
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 3
  • Total Number of Injuries: 54

Idaho

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 662
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 638
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 24
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 28
  • Total Number of Injuries: 383

Illinois

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 7,454
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 7,263
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 191
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 215
  • Total Number of Injuries: 3,561

Indiana

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 5,348
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 5,207
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 141
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 154
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,669

Iowa

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2,118
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2,052
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 66
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 72
  • Total Number of Injuries: 765

Kansas

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,783
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,723
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 60
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 74
  • Total Number of Injuries: 523

Kentucky

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 3,030
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2,951
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 79
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 88
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,317

Louisiana

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 3,491
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 3,393
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 98
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 106
  • Total Number of Injuries: 2,580

Maine

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 753
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 746
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 7
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 7
  • Total Number of Injuries: 412

Maryland

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 3,603
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 3,552
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 51
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 55
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,598

Massachusetts

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2,036
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2,007
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 29
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 31
  • Total Number of Injuries: 767

Michigan

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 5,316
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 5,224
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 92
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 101
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,442

Minnesota

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2269
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2216
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 53
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 57
  • Total Number of Injuries: 724

Mississippi

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,832
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,783
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 49
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 53
  • Total Number of Injuries: 997

Missouri

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 5349
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 5230
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 119
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 140
  • Total Number of Injuries: 2213

Montana

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 711
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 693
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 18
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 27
  • Total Number of Injuries: 227

Nebraska

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 946
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 906
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 40
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 47
  • Total Number of Injuries: 508

Nevada

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 684
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 657
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 27
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 33
  • Total Number of Injuries: 382

New Hampshire

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 377
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 363
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 14
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 15
  • Total Number of Injuries: 121

New Jersey

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 3,462
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 3,419
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 43
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 47
  • Total Number of Injuries: 2,110

New Mexico

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 815
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 771
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 44
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 50
  • Total Number of Injuries: 375

New York

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 6,565
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 6,451
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 114
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 121
  • Total Number of Injuries: 4,666

North Carolina

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 6,092
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 5,953
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 139
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 156
  • Total Number of Injuries: 3,972

North Dakota

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 585
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 563
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 22
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 23
  • Total Number of Injuries: 184

Ohio

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 3,421
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 3,302
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 119
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 132
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,535

Oklahoma

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,452
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,410
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 42
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 55
  • Total Number of Injuries: 633

Oregon

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,879
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,816
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 63
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 75
  • Total Number of Injuries: 651

Pennsylvania

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 7,388
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 7,231
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 157
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 177
  • Total Number of Injuries: 2,936

Rhode Island

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 159
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 155
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 4
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 4
  • Total Number of Injuries: 92
    .

South Carolina

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2,907
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2,806
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 101
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 4105
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,689

South Dakota

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 360
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 341
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 19
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 20
  • Total Number of Injuries: 46

Tennessee

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 4,483
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 4,368
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 115
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 127
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,973

Texas

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 18,607
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 17,934
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 673
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 784
  • Total Number of Injuries: 10,174

Utah

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,004
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 965
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 39
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 41
  • Total Number of Injuries: 457

Vermont

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 167
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 159
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 8
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 9
  • Total Number of Injuries: 87

Virginia

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 4,915
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 4,803
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 112
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 130
  • Total Number of Injuries: 1,933

Washington

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2,120
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2,048
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 72
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 75
  • Total Number of Injuries: 434

West Virginia

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 964
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 937
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 27
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 29
  • Total Number of Injuries: 392

Wisconsin

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 2,466
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 2,401
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 65
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 85
  • Total Number of Injuries: 933

Wyoming

  • Total Number of Large Truck Accidents: 1,081
  • Number of Non-Fatal Accidents: 1,056
  • Number of Fatality Accidents: 25
  • Total Number of Fatalities: 28
  • Total Number of Injuries: 271

Key Takeaways

  • High Accident Numbers: States like Texas and California have notably high numbers of truck accidents, fatalities, and injuries, potentially correlating with their larger populations and extensive road networks.
  • Disparities in Non-Fatal Accidents: Certain states have a pronounced disparity between fatal and non-fatal accidents, potentially pointing towards effective emergency response systems or prevalent minor incidents.
  • Varied Contexts: Each state likely presents unique contexts and challenges, making it pivotal to tailor road safety strategies according to specific dynamics observed.
  • A Call for Safety: While alarming, these numbers serve as a stark reminder of the importance of safety while sharing the road with loaded tractor-trailers and semi-trucks. Whether it’s stricter regulations, improved infrastructure, or advanced driver training, the data emphasizes the need for immediate action to reduce these numbers and ensure safer highways for all.

Frequency of Large Truck Accidents: Miles Between Collisions

Each year, big trucks travel over 302.1 billion miles in the United States – that is a lot of territory to cover. And as you might expect, some states are more accident-prone than others.

The frequency of large truck accidents depends on the state in which you are driving. In some states, such as Alaska, which is sparsely populated and has 17,690 miles of road, a large truck mishap occurs every 465.54 miles. Meanwhile, in Texas, which is densely populated and has a staggering 322,153 miles of roadway, a trucking accident occurs every 17.31 miles.

In this section, we break down large truck accident density or frequency – a metric that can be useful in identifying which states might be more hazardous for travel and where large truck collisions are more likely.

Top 10 States with the Highest Rates of Truck Accidents Per Mile

  1. Maryland: With 32,507 miles of roads, a large truck accident occurs every 9.02 miles.
  2. Delaware: With 6,544 miles of roads, a large truck crash occurs every 10.94 miles.
  3. New Jersey: With 38,781 miles of roads, a large truck crash occurs every 11.20 miles.
  4. California: With 177,300 miles of roads, a large truck accident occurs every 13.34 miles.
  5. Florida: With 123,652 miles of road, a large truck occurs every 13.87 miles.
  6. Connecticut: With 21,363 miles of roads, a large truck wreck occurs every 14.31 miles.
  7. New York: With 114,402 miles of roads, a large truck occurs every 17.43 miles.
  8. North Carolina: With 108,074 miles of road, a large truck crashes every 17.74 miles.
  9. Massachusetts: With 36,830 miles of roads, a large truck crashes every 18.09 miles.
  10. Indiana: With 97,827 miles of roads, a large truck crashes every 18.29 miles.

Top 5 States with the Lowest Rates of Truck Accidents Per Mile

  1. Alaska: With 17,690 miles of roads, a large truck accident occurs every 465.54 miles.
  2. South Dakota:  With 81,289 miles of road, a large truck crashes every 225.80 miles.
  3. North Dakota: With 88,412 miles of road, a large truck accident occurs every 151.13 miles.
  4. Montana: With 73,569 miles of road, a large truck wreck occurs every 103.47 miles.
  5.  Nebraska: With 95,397 miles of road, a big truck collision occurs every 100.84 miles.

While the total number of accidents gives one perspective, understanding accident density offers deeper insights into road safety and infrastructure. States with high accident densities might need to consider more stringent safety regulations, better road maintenance, and enhanced driver training programs. Conversely, those with low densities can serve as models, offering best practices to other regions.

Texas Truck Accident Statistics: Top 10 Counties for Large Truck Wrecks

When it comes to Texas truck accident statistics, there’s a clear correlation between population size and the number of truck accidents. The top four counties in terms of population – Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, and Bexar – are also the top four in terms of truck accidents. This suggests that higher population densities lead to more vehicular traffic, including trucks, which can increase the likelihood of accidents. Here’s a look truck accident statistics for all Texas counties, including the top 10.

  • Population By County
  • Number of Large Trucks Involved in All Crashes, 2022
  1. Harris County:
    • Truck Accidents: 2,574
    • Population: 4,780,913
    • Population Rank: 1
  2. Dallas County:
    • Truck Accidents: 1,740
    • Population: 2,600,840
    • Population Rank: 2
  3. Tarrant County:
    • Truck Accidents: 1,137
    • Population: 2,154,595
    • Population Rank: 3
  4. Bexar County:
    • Truck Accidents: 1,038
    • Population: 2,059,530
    • Population Rank: 4
  5. Travis County:
    • Truck Accidents: 512
    • Population: 1,326,436
    • Population Rank: 5
  6. Denton County:
    • Truck Accidents: 433
    • Population: 977,281
    • Population Rank: 7
  7. Collin County:
    • Truck Accidents: 397
    • Population: 1,158,696
    • Population Rank: 6
  8. El Paso County:
    • Truck Accidents: 382
    • Population: 868,763
    • Population Rank: 8
  9. Montgomery County:
    • Truck Accidents: 368
    • Population: 678,490
    • Population Rank: 9
  10. Williamson County:
    • Truck Accidents: 359
    • Population: 671,418
    • Population Rank: 10

Potential Reasons for High Truck Accidents in the Top 10 Texas Counties:

Several observations can be made from these Texas truck accident statistics, including:

Direct Correlation with Population

A direct link can be observed between the size of a population and the frequency of truck-related accidents. The counties with the largest populations – Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, and Bexar – also record the highest number of truck accidents. This indicates that areas with more residents tend to have increased vehicular movement, large trucks included, raising the chances of mishaps.

Economic and Urban Centers

Many of the counties listed, such as Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, and Bexar, are home to some of the Lone Star state’s largest and busiest cities. For instance, Harris County, which includes Houston, has one of the largest ports in the U.S., increasing the movement of goods and trucks. Urban centers have a high concentration of industries, distribution centers, commercial establishments, and road networks, leading to increased truck traffic and, consequently, higher chances of truck accidents.

Infrastructure and Growth Dynamics

Denton and Collin counties, despite not being among the top five in terms of population, rank 6th and 7th in truck accidents. They also happen to be among the fastest-growing counties in the state. Rapid growth can lead to increased construction, which requires more trucking for materials and can also lead to roads being used beyond their designed capacity. The infrastructure might be facing challenges to keep up with the growth, leading to higher accident rates.

Major Highways & Diverse Traffic

Counties like Harris and Dallas are intersected by major highways, making them significant hubs for transportation in Texas. The high volume of truck traffic on these highways can contribute to the higher number of accidents. Counties with large cities often also have a mix of traffic, from personal vehicles and public transport to large trucks. This diversity can lead to complex driving conditions, increasing the potential for mishaps.

Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Fatalities

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 38,621 commercial motor vehicle crashes in Texas in 2022. This resulted in 716 deaths and 7,549 possible injuries. It’s important to note that not all commercial motor vehicles are big rigs or 18-wheelers, they can also include buses, box trucks, tow trucks, etc.

The top counties for fatal commercial vehicle crashes in 2022 include:

Top Texas Counties for Fatal Commercial Vehicle Crashes

CountyFatal Crashes
Dallas County52
Harris County47
Bexar County20
Travis County15
Midland County12
Tarrant County12
Gregg County11
Martin County11
Collin County10
Williamson County10

Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents in the U.S.

Navigating the roads alongside large trucks can be an intimidating experience for many drivers. The sheer size and mass of these vehicles pose unique dangers that, when coupled with negligence or unfortunate circumstances, can lead to severe accidents. ‘

For the victims involved, these incidents can result in significant injuries or even fatalities, leading to complex legal cases handled by personal injury firms. Please take a moment to watch this video by personal injury attorney Ty Stimpson about common causes of large truck accidents.

Driver Fatigue

One of the most prevalent causes of large truck accidents is driver fatigue. Studies show that driver fatigue is a factor in up to 13 percent of truck crashes. Truck drivers often face grueling schedules, requiring them to drive for extended hours across long distances. Regulations in the U.S., such as the Hours of Service rules enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), are intended to prevent driver fatigue; however, they are not always strictly followed. Overly tired drivers can lose concentration, react slowly, or even fall asleep at the wheel, leading to catastrophic accidents.

Improper Loading

The way a truck’s cargo is loaded can significantly impact its maneuverability and balance. Improperly secured cargo can shift during transport, causing the truck to become unbalanced or even leading to cargo spills. Overloading, or uneven distribution of weight, makes the truck more prone to rollovers and also affects the efficacy of brakes, increasing the likelihood of collisions.

Lack of Proper Maintenance

Trucks typically cover thousands of miles, making routine inspection and maintenance crucial. Failure to properly maintain these vehicles can result in critical system failures. Common issues include brake failures, tire blowouts, engine issues, or malfunctioning lights and signals, all of which can lead to severe accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a significant problem across all vehicle types, including large trucks. Activities like texting, using in-cab technology, eating, or external distractions can divert a driver’s attention from the road. Given the size and inertia of big rigs and semi-trucks, even a momentary lapse in concentration can have disastrous consequences.

Poor Training and Inexperience

Operating large trucks requires specialized skills and a comprehensive understanding of safety protocols. Inadequately trained drivers, or those lacking experience, may struggle with vehicle control, proper cargo handling, defensive driving techniques, and adherence to safety regulations, increasing the risk of accidents.

Driving Under the Influence

Though stringent laws exist, there are still instances where truck drivers operate their vehicles under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal substances. Impaired driving severely compromises a driver’s ability to make sound judgments and react promptly, dramatically heightening the risk of a crash.

Speeding and Reckless Driving

Due to the immense weight and size of large trucks, speeding or engaging in reckless driving behaviors, such as abrupt lane changes, tailgating, or ignoring traffic signals, can be particularly perilous. It reduces the driver’s ability to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions and increases the severity of an accident upon impact.

Adverse Weather Conditions, Especially Ice

The unpredictability of weather adds another complex variable to the safe operation of large trucks. Conditions such as rain, sleet, snow, fog, or ice significantly affect road safety, particularly for big rigs and semi-trucks due to their size and weight.

Reduced visibility impairs a driver’s ability to assess road conditions effectively, while slippery surfaces extend the braking distance required to stop these massive vehicles safely. High winds can also be a serious hazard, as they can cause trucks to sway or even tip over, especially when the vehicle is moving at higher speeds or the cargo is not loaded correctly.

It’s imperative for truck drivers to be adequately trained to handle their vehicles during adverse weather conditions, and for trucking companies to implement policies that prioritize safety over scheduling demands in such situations. Failure to adapt driving patterns and schedules to weather conditions can lead to negligence claims in personal injury cases following an accident.

The aftermath of accidents involving big rigs or semi-trucks can be devastating. For those who have suffered personal injuries or losses in such accidents, understanding these common causes is a crucial aspect of your legal journey.

Personal injury firms play a pivotal role in investigating these causes, establishing negligence, and fighting for the rights and entitlements of victims. Preventative measures, rigorous enforcement of trucking regulations, and responsible driving can significantly reduce the incidence of these tragic occurrences on U.S. roads.

Most Large Truck Accidents Occur During the Day

Truck accident statistics show that large truck accidents are more common when it’s daylight. Nationwide, 73 percent of large truck crashes occur between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The most dangerous time for large truck accidents is between noon and 3 p.m. In 2022, there were 35,912 large truck crashes nationwide during this time period. And once again, Texas leads the way – 4117 crashes happened between noon and 3 p.m.

Many large truck drivers prefer to drive during the day, which could explain why more crashes occur during this time period. Not to mention, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service regulations limit the amount of time a larger trucker can be on the road and mandate that drivers take rest breaks.

Regulating the Trucking Industry

The U.S. trucking industry is subject to a vast array of state and federal laws and regulations, based on factors like the type of cargo, truck size, routes, and more.

At the federal level, the primary agency overseeing the trucking industry is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They handle regulations related to:

  • Hours of Service (HOS)
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards
  • Maintenance and inspection requirements
  • Hazardous materials transportation
  • Safety standards
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)
  • Cargo securement rules

Additionally, there are other federal agencies like the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which have regulations impacting the trucking industry, such as emissions standards.

Each of the 50 states also has its own set of regulations pertaining to trucking within its borders. These may include:

  • Size and weight limits
  • Tax and registration requirements
  • Route restrictions
  • State-specific safety standards
  • Intrastate trucking regulations

With so many federal regulations and state-specific rules and laws, it’s easy for trucking companies and drivers to make a mistake. If they do, they can be held liable for any resulting accidents and injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a big rig wreck, it’s imperative to contact a trucking accident personal injury lawyer who is experienced and well-versed in the nuances of trucking regulations, liability laws, and successfully pursuing trucking lawsuits.

Risky Driving By Truckers: Falsifying Logbooks

U.S. truck drivers are federally mandated to maintain a log book, which is an official record of their daily activities and working hours. This log book, often facilitated these days through Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), is extremely important to ensure the safety of other motorists, the truck drivers themselves, and the goods they transport.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for truck drivers to falsify their logbooks, fail to keep their logbooks current, or in some cases, not even have one at all. In 2021, the most recent year full logbook trucking statistics were available, there were 2,766,086 driver inspections, resulting in 932,495 driver violations. Of that number, more than 180,000 citations were for logbook violations – including 53,000 citations for falsifying logbooks.

These are alarming numbers, to say the least. Falsifying logbooks or general logbook violations not only jeopardizes the safety of large truck drivers but also other motorists and pedestrians by increasing the risk of catastrophic or even fatal truck accidents. Here’s why keeping a current, accurate log is so important:

Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that limit the number of hours a driver can be on the road and dictate required rest periods. The logbook ensures that drivers adhere to these rules, which are designed to prevent fatigue-related accidents.

Here are the key HOS provisions for property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: After 10 consecutive hours off duty, a driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours.
  • 14-Hour Limit: Drivers are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period
  • Rest Breaks: Drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes if they have driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption. This break can be satisfied by any non-driving period, such as fueling or eating.
  • 60/70-Hour Limit: Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver can restart the 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. The choice between the 60-hour/7-day and 70-hour/8-day schedule is at the discretion of the motor carrier.
  • Sleeper Berth Provision: If a truck has a sleeper berth, the driver can split the required 10-hour off-duty period. One of the periods must be at least 2 hours long, and the other period must be at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. When these two periods are combined, they must total 10 hours. Neither period counts against the 14-hour limit.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions: Drivers can extend the maximum drive time and 14-hour window by up to 2 hours if they encounter adverse driving conditions, but this doesn’t increase the total time allowed for driving in a day (which remains at 11 hours).
  • Short-Haul Exception: Some drivers might qualify for a short-haul exception. These drivers can bypass the 30-minute break rule and extend the 14-hour limit to 16 hours once in any 7-day period. Several conditions must be met, including returning to the work reporting location and starting and ending their workday at the same place.

Safety and Accountability

By keeping an accurate record of their driving and on-duty hours, truck drivers and their employers can be held accountable in the event of discrepancies or violations. This ensures that drivers are taking the required rest and not overexerting themselves, which can lead to decreased reaction times and increased risk of accidents.

Evidence in Legal Cases

In an unfortunate commercial vehicle accident, the driver’s logbook can serve as crucial evidence. It can demonstrate compliance with regulations or show negligence if rules were not followed.

Operational Efficiency

For trucking companies, log books can aid in efficient fleet management, helping to optimize routes and schedules, and ensure drivers are working within legal and safe timeframes.

Logbook requirement, while regulatory, serves a dual purpose of ensuring road safety by minimizing driver fatigue and providing a transparent system of accountability for truck drivers and their employers.

Unfortunately, big rig drivers often feel the pressure to meet delivery deadlines, maximize earnings or circumvent hours of service regulations, which is why so many are tempted cook their books. If a person is injured or killed in a semi-truck accident, their logbook will be thoroughly scrutinized and any discrepancies or violations can be used as evidence of negligence, leading to legal liability for the driver and their company and, quite possibly, a truck accident lawsuit.

Large Truck Fatality Statistics: Overview

Fatal Truck Crash Statistics: Men v. Women

More men than women die each year in motor vehicle crashes – and this includes truckers, according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In 2021, the most recent year complete statistics were available, 97 percent of fatalities involving large truck drivers were men. That year, 468 male truck drivers were involved in a fatal large truck accident, compared to just 14 female truck drivers. This is probably due to the fact that most truck drivers in the U.S. are men.

Fatal Truck Accidents are More Likely to Occur in Rural Areas

Fatal truck crashes are tragic no matter where they happen, but statistics show that more than half of all fatal large truck crashes occur in rural areas. In 2021, 55 percent of fatal traffic crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas, compared with 45 percent in urban areas. Here’s some reasons why rural areas are high-risk locations for fatal trucking accidents:

  • Higher Speed Limits: Rural roads often have higher speed limits compared to urban areas. At higher speeds, accidents are more likely to be fatal due to the increased force of impact.
  • Lack of Divided Highways: Many rural roads are two-lane highways without barriers or medians. This can lead to head-on collisions, especially if a vehicle drifts into the opposing lane.
  • Limited Medical Facilities: In the event of an accident, immediate medical attention can make the difference between life and death. Rural areas might have fewer hospitals or trauma centers, leading to longer response times for emergency services.
  • Response Time for Emergency Services: Similarly, it may take longer for police, fire, and ambulance services to arrive at the scene of an accident in remote locations.
  • Less Lighting: Rural roads are often poorly lit compared to their urban counterparts. This can lead to reduced visibility during nighttime, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Drowsy and Fatigued Driving: Long-haul truck drivers might be more prone to fatigue on long, monotonous stretches of rural highways, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Wildlife Collisions: Rural areas often have more wildlife. Collisions with large animals, like deer or moose, can be fatal, especially at high speeds.
  • Limited Road Maintenance: Rural roads might not be as well-maintained as urban roads. Potholes, uneven surfaces, and other road defects can be hazardous, especially for large trucks.
  • Less Traffic Enforcement: There might be less frequent patrolling by law enforcement in rural areas, leading to riskier driving behaviors like speeding, overtaking improperly, or driving under the influence.
  • Variability in Road Conditions: Changing road conditions, such as transitions from paved to gravel roads, can be more common in rural areas. These transitions can be challenging for large trucks to navigate safely.
  • Lack of Safety Infrastructure: Features like guardrails, rumble strips, and clear road markings might be less prevalent on rural roads.

Most Fatal Large Trucking Accidents Occur on Weekdays

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 78 percent of the fatal traffic crashes involving large trucks in 2021 occurred on weekdays,  while just 22 percent occurred on the weekend. Here’s possible reasons why:

  • Higher Volume of Trucks: Weekdays are standard working days for most businesses, including shipping and logistics companies. Consequently, there is a higher volume of trucks on the road transporting goods during this period.
  • Increased Traffic: Weekdays generally see more traffic due to commuters traveling to and from work. The increased volume and variability of vehicles can lead to more opportunities for accidents, especially during rush hours.
  • Tight Schedules: Truck drivers often operate under tight schedules to meet delivery deadlines. The pressure to meet these deadlines during weekdays can sometimes lead to speeding, longer driving hours, or other risky behaviors.
  • Business Operations: Many businesses, warehouses, and delivery centers are in full operation during weekdays, leading to increased truck movement in and out of these facilities, potentially raising the risk of accidents.
  • Fewer Weekend Operations: While some industries operate on weekends, many do not, leading to a reduced number of trucks on the road.

Dangerous and Deadly Underride Crashes

One of the most perilous and often overlooked types of road accidents involves big trucks, specifically underride crashes. An underride crash occurs when a smaller vehicle, such as a passenger car, slides or crashes underneath the rear or side of a larger truck or trailer. These accidents can lead to some of the most catastrophic and deadly outcomes due to the following reasons:

  • Severity of Injuries: The design of passenger vehicles prioritizes the safety of occupants based on typical collision points. When a car goes underneath a truck, the initial point of impact is often the windshield or the top of the car, which bypasses many of the vehicle’s built-in safety features. This can result in severe head and neck injuries or even decapitation.
  • Compromised Safety Features: Most of the safety features in passenger vehicles, like airbags and crumple zones, are designed to protect occupants in front and side impacts. In an underride crash, these safety measures can be rendered ineffective because the primary force of the crash is not absorbed where it’s expected.
  • Delayed Response: In certain underride scenarios, especially those occurring at lower speeds or at specific angles, other motorists might not immediately recognize an ongoing accident. This delay in recognition can lead to secondary crashes or make it harder for emergency responders to reach and assist victims in a timely manner.
  • Vehicle Entrapment: When a passenger vehicle goes underneath a truck, it can become wedged or entrapped. This can make it challenging for rescue personnel to extract victims, increasing the time they remain in harm’s way and potentially delaying vital medical treatment.
  • Increased Fatality Rate: Due to the aforementioned reasons, underride crashes often have a higher fatality rate compared to other types of collisions. Even if the initial impact does not result in immediate fatalities, the severity of injuries often leads to loss of life in the aftermath.

Many countries and trucking companies have adopted safety measures to mitigate the dangers of underride crashes, such as installing underride guards on the rear and sides of trucks. These barriers are designed to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a collision. While these guards can significantly reduce the risk, they are not foolproof, and the potential for tragic outcomes remains.

Underride crashes pose unique and severe threats to road safety. It is crucial for both the trucking industry and passenger vehicle drivers to be aware of these dangers and adopt defensive driving techniques to prevent such tragedies. Awareness campaigns and ongoing research into improved safety mechanisms can further help in reducing the occurrence and impact of these deadly accidents.

Personal Injury Damages

Trucking Accident Damages

In the aftermath of a trucking accident, understanding the potential damages—financial compensation awarded as a result of a lawsuit or insurance claim—is important when pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death case. These damages are generally categorized into three types: economic, non-economic, and in some cases, punitive.

Economic Damages

Economic damages compensate for quantifiable financial losses. They include medical expenses (both current and future, if the injuries require ongoing care), lost wages due to the inability to work, reduced earning capacity if the victim is unable to return to the same line of work, rehabilitation costs, and any other tangible financial burdens incurred as a result of the accident.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible losses that don’t have a direct monetary value but significantly impact a victim’s quality of life. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, and loss of companionship or consortium (in the case of a spouse’s death).

Punitive Damages

Unlike economic and non-economic damages, which aim to compensate the victim, punitive damages are intended to punish the offender and deter similar conduct in the future. These are only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were especially harmful or egregious. For instance, if a trucking company knowingly violated safety standards or a driver operated under the influence, courts might award punitive damages as a strong message against such behavior.

Settlements or awards can significantly vary based on the specifics of each case. If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, it’s crucial to consult with experienced attorneys like those at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, who can provide guidance tailored to your situation.

Know Your Worth, Don't Settle for Less

Speak with a Texas Trucking Accident Attorney Today.

Truck drivers and their companies are required to follow strict laws, both on the federal and state level. As you can tell by the alarming statistics and troubling information in this article, they don’t always do that —and that’s when tragedy strikes.

At Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group, we’ve been through the trenches with victims who’ve faced the worst after a trucking accident—life-altering injuries and the devastating loss of family members. We dig deep to uncover what happened and then fight to hold everyone responsible and secure the compensation our clients deserve.

These cases aren’t simple; they’re tangled with details and legalities. That’s why having an experienced trucking attorney by your side from the beginning makes a difference. The sooner we’re on it, the quicker we can gather the evidence to start building your case.

We’re not just your attorneys; we’re your allies, advocates, and support system, committed to navigating you through this challenging time with expertise and compassion. If your life has been upended by a trucking accident, remember, you’re not alone — we’re here to stand with you and for you, every step of the way.

Call 817-207-4878 (HURT) for a free consultation with a seasoned truck accident lawyer from our team. If we take your case, it won’t cost you a penny out of pocket. We work on contingency, which means we only get paid when we win.

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Sources:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

NHTSA: Large Truck Traffic Safety Facts

FMCSA: Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics 2022

Texas Department of Transportation: 2022 Traffic Crash Facts

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

The Insurance Institue for Highway Safety (IIHS)

National Safety Council

FMCSA – Data Dissemination Program

TxDot – Commercial Vehicle Involved Crashes

U.S. Trucking Accidents

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About the Author

Benson Varghese Benson Varghese is the managing partner of Varghese Summersett. He is a seasoned trial attorney, highly esteemed for his comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field. He has been to trial throughout state and federal courts in Texas. 

As a former insurance adjuster himself, Benson has insights into how insurance companies evaluate claims – and why without the proper encouragement, they are likely to undervalue a claim. Benson uses these insights combined with his clout in the courtroom to obtain justice for his clients – in and outside of the courtroom.

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