Fatality Facts 2017Large trucks

Overview

Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in crashes.

Truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes. Truck driver fatigue also is a known crash risk. Drivers of large trucks are allowed by federal hours-of-service regulations to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch. Surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted. McCartt, A.T.; Hellinga L.A.; and Solomon, M.G. 2008. Work schedules of long-distance truck drivers before and after 2004 hours-of-service rule change. Traffic Injury Prevention 9:201-10.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Posted December 2018.

Where and when large truck crashes occurred

Fifty-two percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2017 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, 32 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, and 15 percent occurred on minor roads.

Deaths in large truck crashes by road type, 2017
Road type Deaths %
Interstates and freeways 1,297 32
Other major roads 2,132 52
Minor roads 616 15
All road types* 4,102 100

Forty-nine percent of large truck crash deaths in 2017 occurred from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., compared with 30 percent of crash deaths not involving large trucks.

Deaths in large truck crashes and other crashes by time of day, 2017
Time of day Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 330 8 3,763 11 4,093 11
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 419 10 2,646 8 3,065 8
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 610 15 3,019 9 3,629 10
9 a.m. - noon 630 15 2,802 8 3,432 9
Noon - 3 p.m. 759 19 4,180 13 4,939 13
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 645 16 5,312 16 5,957 16
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 395 10 5,868 18 6,263 17
9 p.m. - midnight 310 8 5,168 16 5,478 15
Total* 4,102 100 33,031 100 37,133 100

Sixteen percent of large truck crash deaths in 2017 occurred on Saturday and Sunday, compared with 35 percent of crash deaths not involving large trucks.

Deaths in large truck crashes and other crashes by day of week, 2017
Day of Week Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Sunday 266 6 5,588 17 5,854 16
Monday 668 16 4,055 12 4,723 13
Tuesday 680 17 4,049 12 4,729 13
Wednesday 653 16 3,994 12 4,647 13
Thursday 745 18 4,218 13 4,963 13
Friday 693 17 5,100 15 5,793 16
Saturday 397 10 6,027 18 6,424 17
Total* 4,102 100 33,031 100 37,133 100

Comparison of large truck crashes and passenger vehicle crashes

Forty-eight percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2017 occurred in crashes in which their vehicles rolled over. This was slightly higher than the percentage of SUV occupant deaths and pickup occupant deaths that occurred in rollover crashes and much higher than the percentage of occupant deaths in cars (22 percent) involving rollovers.

Occupant deaths by rollover occurrence and vehicle type, 2017
Vehicle type No rollover Rollover All crashes
Number % Number % Number %
Large truck 358 52 325 48 683 100
SUV 2,857 55 2,317 45 5,174 100
Pickup 2,579 59 1,828 41 4,407 100
Car 10,797 78 2,978 22 13,775 100
Total* 22,304 74 7,841 26 30,145 100

Fifty-eight percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2017 occurred in single-vehicle crashes, compared with 46 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Occupant deaths in large trucks and passenger vehicles by number of vehicles involved, 2017
Crash type Large truck occupants Passenger vehicle occupants
Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 398 58 11,019 46
Multiple-vehicle 285 42 12,689 54
All crashes* 683 100 23,708 100

Seventeen percent of large trucks in fatal crashes in 2017 were involved in single-vehicle crashes; in contrast, 37 percent of passenger vehicles in fatal crashes were involved in single-vehicle crashes.

Large truck and passenger vehicle involvement in fatal crashes by number of vehicles involved, 2017
Crash type Large trucks Passenger vehicles
Number % Number %
Single vehicle 678 17 15,501 37
Two vehicles 2,482 62 18,846 45
> 2 vehicles 857 21 7,304 18
All crashes* 4,017 100 41,651 100

Fifty-one percent of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2017 were using seat belts, compared with 49 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. Belt use was unknown for 19 percent of fatally injured large truck drivers, compared with 8 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers.

Seat belt use among fatally injured large truck and passenger vehicle drivers, 2017
Belt use Large truck drivers Passenger vehicle drivers
Number % Number %
Belt used 308 51 8,603 49
Unbelted 184 30 7,568 43
Unknown 115 19 1,491 8
Total 607 100 17,662 100

Thirty-one percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a large truck in 2017 were in vehicles struck head-on by the truck and another 25 percent were in vehicles that were side-struck. Twenty-two percent involved the front of the passenger vehicle striking the rear of the large truck.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2-vehicle crashes with a large truck, 2017
Large truck Passenger vehicle Total
Front Side Rear Other
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Front 674 31 535 25 103 5 17 1 1329 62
Side 267 12 29 1 2 <1 11 1 309 14
Rear 476 22 10 <1 2 <1 3 <1 491 23
Other 12 1 5 <1 0 0 11 1 28 1
Total 1429 66 579 27 107 5 42 2 2157 100

Large truck drivers killed in fatal crashes rarely have high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). Truck drivers are subject to strict government regulations concerning drinking and driving. Four percent of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2017 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent, down from 17 percent in 1982. For comparison, 29 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers in 2017 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent, down from 51 percent in 1982.

Estimated percent and number of fatally injured large truck and passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥0.08 percent, 1982-2017
Year Large truck drivers Passenger vehicle drivers
Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08
Number Number % Number Number %
1982 735 123 17 19,664 10,024 51
1983 767 115 15 19,338 9,529 49
1984 859 107 12 20,300 9,379 46
1985 775 84 11 20,058 8,674 43
1986 736 58 8 21,503 9,396 44
1987 686 53 8 22,157 9,343 42
1988 743 66 9 22,884 9,580 42
1989 681 68 10 22,554 9,200 41
1990 570 50 9 21,953 8,973 41
1991 550 39 7 20,551 8,242 40
1992 506 26 5 19,573 7,434 38
1993 504 26 5 20,036 7,328 37
1994 545 36 7 20,647 7,083 34
1995 546 31 6 21,457 7,488 35
1996 525 34 6 21,631 7,336 34
1997 616 19 3 21,711 7,069 33
1998 628 30 5 21,627 6,944 32
1999 631 28 4 21,899 6,994 32
2000 641 28 4 21,819 7,127 33
2001 591 22 4 21,862 7,205 33
2002 582 38 7 22,537 7,381 33
2003 608 23 4 22,200 7,120 32
2004 624 24 4 21,952 6,952 32
2005 663 22 3 21,953 7,104 32
2006 678 30 4 21,592 7,164 33
2007 663 17 3 20,542 7,057 34
2008 534 19 4 18,266 6,280 34
2009 399 16 4 16,834 5,791 34
2010 426 17 4 16,029 5,177 32
2011 493 9 2 15,561 5,064 33
2012 524 14 3 15,915 5,204 33
2013 529 17 3 15,577 5,108 33
2014 536 16 3 15,495 4,906 32
2015 536 16 3 16,629 4,916 30
2016 590 17 3 17,641 5,149 29
2017 607 27 4 17,662 5,065 29