Fatality Facts 2019Large 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 March 2021.

Where and when large truck crashes occurred

Fifty-two percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2019 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, 2019
Road type Deaths %
Interstates and freeways 1,328 32
Other major roads 2,158 52
Minor roads 621 15
All road types* 4,119 100

Forty-eight percent of large truck crash deaths in 2019 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, 2019
Time of day Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 328 8 3,598 11 3,926 11
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 439 11 2,543 8 2,982 8
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 613 15 2,960 9 3,573 10
9 a.m. - noon 656 16 2,761 9 3,417 9
Noon - 3 p.m. 718 17 3,997 12 4,715 13
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 617 15 5,076 16 5,693 16
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 405 10 5,671 18 6,076 17
9 p.m. - midnight 336 8 5,109 16 5,445 15
Total* 4,119 100 31,977 100 36,096 100

Seventeen percent of large truck crash deaths in 2019 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, 2019
Day of Week Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Sunday 304 7 5,295 17 5,599 16
Monday 686 17 3,982 12 4,668 13
Tuesday 686 17 3,939 12 4,625 13
Wednesday 686 17 3,893 12 4,579 13
Thursday 700 17 4,072 13 4,772 13
Friday 672 16 5,028 16 5,700 16
Saturday 385 9 5,768 18 6,153 17
Total* 4,119 100 31,977 100 36,096 100

Comparison of large truck and passenger vehicle crashes

Forty-seven percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2019 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, 2019
Vehicle type No rollover Rollover All crashes
Number % Number % Number %
Large truck 360 53 319 47 679 100
SUV 3,246 61 2,096 39 5,342 100
Pickup 2,647 62 1,632 38 4,279 100
Car 9,910 80 2,510 20 12,420 100
Total* 21,720 76 7,038 24 28,758 100

Fifty-five percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2019 occurred in single-vehicle crashes, compared with 44 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Occupant deaths in large trucks and passenger vehicles by number of vehicles involved, 2019
Crash type Large truck occupants Passenger vehicle occupants
Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 373 55 9,973 44
Multiple-vehicle 306 45 12,443 56
All crashes* 679 100 22,416 100

Seventeen percent of large trucks in fatal crashes in 2019 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, 2019
Crash type Large trucks Passenger vehicles
Number % Number %
Single vehicle 715 17 14,754 37
Two vehicles 2,423 59 18,545 46
> 2 vehicles 975 24 7,017 17
All crashes* 4,113 100 40,316 100

Forty-eight percent of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2019 were using seat belts, which was similar to fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers (50 percent). However, belt use was unknown for 23 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, 2019
Belt use Large truck drivers Passenger vehicle drivers
Number % Number %
Belt used 287 48 8,311 50
Unbelted 173 29 7,079 42
Unknown 140 23 1,393 8
Total 600 100 16,783 100

Twenty-nine percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a large truck in 2019 were in vehicles struck head-on by the truck and another 24 percent were in vehicles that were side-struck by the truck. Twenty-four 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, 2019
Large truck Passenger vehicle Total
Front Side Rear Other
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Front 618 29 522 24 120 6 10 <1 1270 60
Side 271 13 25 1 3 <1 4 <1 303 14
Rear 507 24 22 1 1 <1 1 <1 531 25
Other 13 1 4 <1 0 0 11 1 28 1
Total 1409 66 573 27 124 6 26 1 2132 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 2019 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent, down from 17 percent in 1982. For comparison, 28 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers in 2019 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, 1982-2019
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 583 18 3 17,263 4,957 29
2019 600 16 3 16,783 4,768 28