According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, there were 3,921 fatalities and 104,000 injuries in accidents involving large trucks in 2012. Of the fatalities, 73%, or 2,843, were occupants in vehicles other than the truck. In 2012, large trucks (also called tractor-trailers, semi-trucks and 18-wheelers), which are defined as any vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds, accounted for 4% of all registered vehicles, yet they accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes.
It's impossible to predict if the next time you get behind the wheel of a car you'll be involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer. However, there is an extensive amount of data collected about car and truck crashes that helps determine under what conditions accidents involving large trucks are likely to occur.
So when and where do most accidents involving large trucks occur?
Following is a summary of fatalities and injuries involving crashes with large trucks as reported in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2012 crash data.
Where Accidents Occur
Although the fewest number of people live in rural areas, rural fatalities accounted for the highest percentage of fatalities, with speed being a factor. Rural roads accounted for 63% of fatalities, while urban roads accounted for 37%.
When Accidents Occur
Most fatalities involving large trucks occurred Monday –Friday (79%) between 6am-6pm(64%). This is likely due to the fact that many large trucks make deliveries during weekday hours. The highest number of fatalities occurred between the hours of 12-3pm, with the least between 12am-3am.
Under What Conditions Accidents Occur
Speed Limit: Most fatalities, 34.4%, occurred when the posted speed limit was between 50-55 mph, with 60-65 mph being second at 20.4%.
Traffic Flow: 53% of fatalities and 33.2% of injury crashes happened on two-way roads, not divided.
Weather Conditions: 72.5% of fatal crashes and 72.3% of injury crashes occurred on clear days, with no rain, sleet, snow, fog or other weather related obstructions.
Road Conditions: 84.9% of fatal crashes and 81.2% of injury crashes occurred on dry roads that weren't icy, snowy, muddy or wet.
When a large truck crashes into a passenger vehicle, the injuries are often catastrophic. We see multiple broken bones, compound fractures, spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, paralysis and death.
While traveling this holiday season, be aware of your surroundings and give large trucks plenty of space. Again, you can't predict an accident, but you can be aware of when most accidents occur and take extra precautions to stay safe in those conditions.
If you've been injured in a crash involving a semi-truck you should contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries. Accidents with tractor-trailers often require a thorough investigation that a truck lawyer is experienced with handling. Take time to read my previous blog post to see what the difference is between an ordinary car accident and one involving a large truck. If you've been injured in an accident with a semi-truck or other large truck please call our office for a free consultation.