Truck Accident Statistics

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Truck Accident Statistics


*Updated statistics & sources June 2023

Truck driving is one of the most dangerous professions in the world today. It was considered the top deadliest professions in 2018 by Fox Business. To get an idea of how dangerous it is, consider the fact that some of the other professions on the list included mining, logging and deep sea fishing.

Truck driving isn’t just dangerous for the driver. Truck and big rig accidents account for the second highest number of road accident fatalities in the US because they’re usually loaded with heavy cargo. Even a slight mistake or misjudgment by the driver can cause the large vehicle being driven to go out of control, and ram into other vehicles or buildings, causing a loss of both property and life.

Trucks move roughly 72.2% of the nation’s freight by weight. These include raw materials, fuel, processed food, produce and finished products. These accounted for $875.5 billion worth of goods in 2021. More than 15 million trucks operate in the U.S. and about 7.99 million people were employed in jobs related to trucking in 2021 according to the American Trucking Associations, making it the largest trucking industry in the world.

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Big Rig Truck Stopping Distance

The weight of an average motor vehicle is around 2.5 tons. However, a truck filled with cargo, can weigh up to 40 – 50 tons. Trucks require a much longer stopping distance than an average vehicle, due to their weight and size. For instance, if a motor car and truck are both driving at 40 mph and both start braking at the same time, then the truck would travel 40-50 feet ahead of the vehicle before coming to a complete stop.

Semi Truck and Tractor-Trailer Related Crashes

the CDC reported that 65% of on-the-job deaths of truck drivers were caused due to crashes and road accidents in 2012. In 2020, there were about 415,000 road accidents involving large vehicles and trucks – that’s about 1,130 a day. More than 100,000 crashes resulted in injuries for someone while there were 3,864 fatal crashes.

The same study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that the majority of accidents occurred in rural areas or high intensity highways. Approximately 61% of all fatal crashes occurred in rural areas and about 27% occurred on interstate highways.

For the majority of the crashes, the accident took place due to collision with another vehicle that was mobile.

Truck Accidents on the Rise

Statistics provided by the World Health Organization show that truck & motor vehicle accidents are on the rise. So much so that the WHO has created a “Decade of Action for Road Safety” from 2021-2030 with the goal of “preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030“.

While there are many causes of 18-wheeler accidents, researchers believe that there are several reasons why truck accidents are more common than any other type of road accident.

  1. Driver Critical Error: The top reasons reported for truck driver error are: traveling too fast for the conditions, unfamiliarity with highway, over-the-counter drug use, inadequate surveillance, fatigue, stress or pressure from carrier, illegal maneuver, inattention and distractions.
  2. Vehicle Critical Error: The most common reported truck malfunction that caused an accident was brake failure, followed by tire problems and blowouts.
  3. Environmental: Accidents involving the environment are typically attributed to highway conditions, traffic and weather.

Truck Driving Regulations, Load Regulations & Speed Limits


For majority of truck accident cases, the truck drivers and carriers are held liable for injuries or trucking accident deaths. Truck drivers are required to abide by certain rules and regulations to protect the safety of other motorists on the road. FMCSA Truck driver regulations include the following.

  • Truck drivers can only drive up to a maximum of 14 hours each day and may not drive consecutively for more than 14 hours.
  • Truck drivers are required to take rest breaks if less than 8 hours have passed since end of driver’s last haul.
  • A driver is not allowed to drive more than 60/70 hours consecutively in 7/8 consecutive days.

Each state has its own specific road speed limits for truck drivers. Speed limits normally range between 35 mph in urban areas to 85 mph in rural areas and interstate highways. For most jurisdictions, the speed limit for trucks is much lower than the speed limits for smaller passenger vehicles.

There are also regulations concerning the cargo that can be loaded on trucks. Trucks carrying fuel and highly inflammable or toxic chemicals must display a warning sign visibly for other vehicles.

Cargo must be loaded evenly throughout the truck. If a truck has more load than capacity or an unbalanced load, it can affect the driver’s ability to stop quickly in response to roadway hazards.

The trucking industry is one of the most heavily studied & scrutinized industries in the country because mistakes and breaking the laws & regulations cause people to be killed or catastrophically injured. The attorneys listed within this website have based their careers on helping the families of truck & big rig accidents get the compensation and medical solutions they need to move on with life.

Truck Accident Injuries

Truck drivers also suffer from injuries and fatalities from time to time, but the instances of this are far fewer because of their relative protection in an accident. Passengers of the smaller vehicles that they hit, (which is virtually every other vehicle), are more likely to suffer from serious injuries and fatalities.

Statistics show that the number of people injured or killed in truck accidents usually exceeds the total number of major accidents because there are usually multiple passengers in the smaller vehicle.

For instance, the FMCSA compiled data from large truck & bus accidents causing injury from 2018 – 2020 From 2018 to 2020 the number of large trucks in fatal crashes weighing 10,001 to 14,000 pounds increased 14 percent, from 635 to 724 and the number of medium/heavy pickup trucks in fatal crashes increased 19 percent, from 405 to 481. The number of large trucks with no issuing authority in fatal crashes increased 11 percent, from 740 to 819.

More than 4,800 people were killed in truck collisions and accidents in 2020 and 45,900 large trucks were involved in injury-causing crashes, and 86,618 were involved in tow-away crashes.

If you or a family member has been catastrophically injured and need to talk to our listed experienced truck accident lawyers, use to start your search.

Specific Causes of Large Truck Crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes regular reports on accident statistics that include a section on large truck accidents. The report suggests that most crashes have more than one contributing factor. Some of the common causes of large truck crashes include; Truck engine failure, Suspension, braking or other truck failures, Following the vehicle ahead too close, Over compensating the steering wheel while trying to avoid obstacles, Driver fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel, Physical impairment of the driver and or Fog and environmental factors

The same study conducted by the FMCSA revealed that major factors for large truck accidents included the following.

  • The most common cause of truck crashes was brake failure which accounted for 27% of the accidents.
  • In 19% of cases, truck drivers were unfamiliar with the route.
  • A significant number of drivers, 10% in this case, felt under pressure while driving.
  • 7% of the driver found to have been very tired.
  • Drivers who were found driving aggressively was 5%.
  • The number of drivers that experienced tire failure was 3%.
  • Roughly 1% drivers were ill or under the influence of illegal substances.

3.5 Times More Compensation with a Truck Accident Attorney

The Insurance Research Council reports that people with attorneys were paid 3.5x more than those who did not hire an attorney and that 85% of all the dollars that are paid out by insurance companies for bodily injury claims are paid to clients who have hired an attorney to represent them. (“Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs”)