Fatality Facts 2018Large 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 2019.

Where and when large truck crashes occurred

Fifty-two percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2018 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, 33 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, and 14 percent occurred on minor roads.

Deaths in large truck crashes by road type, 2018
Road type Deaths %
Interstates and freeways 1,357 33
Other major roads 2,156 52
Minor roads 599 14
All road types* 4,136 100

Fifty percent of large truck crash deaths in 2018 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, 2018
Time of day Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 315 8 3,764 12 4,079 11
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 452 11 2,543 8 2,995 8
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 625 15 3,056 9 3,681 10
9 a.m. - noon 647 16 2,869 9 3,516 10
Noon - 3 p.m. 790 19 3,925 12 4,715 13
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 613 15 5,055 16 5,668 16
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 392 9 5,812 18 6,204 17
9 p.m. - midnight 297 7 5,154 16 5,451 15
Total* 4,136 100 32,424 100 36,560 100

Sixteen percent of large truck crash deaths in 2018 occurred on Saturday and Sunday, compared with 34 percent of crash deaths not involving large trucks.

Deaths in large truck crashes and other crashes by day of week, 2018
Day of Week Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Sunday 288 7 5,272 16 5,560 15
Monday 682 16 4,236 13 4,918 13
Tuesday 706 17 3,945 12 4,651 13
Wednesday 703 17 3,919 12 4,622 13
Thursday 669 16 4,178 13 4,847 13
Friday 697 17 4,964 15 5,661 15
Saturday 391 9 5,910 18 6,301 17
Total* 4,136 100 32,424 100 36,560 100

Comparison of large truck crashes and passenger vehicle crashes

Forty-five percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2018 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 (20 percent) involving rollovers.

Occupant deaths by rollover occurrence and vehicle type, 2018
Vehicle type No rollover Rollover All crashes
Number % Number % Number %
Large truck 374 55 304 45 678 100
SUV 2,940 58 2,095 42 5,035 100
Pickup 2,635 60 1,734 40 4,369 100
Car 10,489 80 2,649 20 13,138 100
Total* 22,006 75 7,200 25 29,206 100

Fifty-nine percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2018 occurred in single-vehicle crashes, compared with 45 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Occupant deaths in large trucks and passenger vehicles by number of vehicles involved, 2018
Crash type Large truck occupants Passenger vehicle occupants
Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 401 59 10,302 45
Multiple-vehicle 277 41 12,589 55
All crashes* 678 100 22,891 100

Eighteen percent of large trucks in fatal crashes in 2018 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, 2018
Crash type Large trucks Passenger vehicles
Number % Number %
Single vehicle 707 18 15,012 37
Two vehicles 2,447 61 18,674 46
> 2 vehicles 872 22 7,239 18
All crashes* 4,026 100 40,925 100

Forty-nine percent of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2018 were using seat belts, the same proportion as fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. However, belt use was unknown for 20 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, 2018
Belt use Large truck drivers Passenger vehicle drivers
Number % Number %
Belt used 284 49 8,374 49
Unbelted 181 31 7,370 43
Unknown 119 20 1,424 8
Total 584 100 17,168 100

Thirty-one percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a large truck in 2018 were in vehicles struck head-on by the truck and another 24 percent were in vehicles that were side-struck by the truck. Twenty-three 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, 2018
Large truck Passenger vehicle Total
Front Side Rear Other
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Front 654 31 512 24 119 6 9 <1 1294 61
Side 256 12 34 2 1 <1 4 <1 295 14
Rear 481 23 13 1 0 0 1 <1 495 23
Other 25 1 8 <1 0 0 16 1 49 2
Total 1416 66 567 27 120 6 30 1 2133 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. Three percent of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2018 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 2018 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, 1982-2018
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 604 29 5 17,751 5,116 29
2018 584 18 3 17,168 4,946 29