Fatality Facts 2016Large trucks

Large trucks

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 2017.

Where and when large truck crashes occurred

Sixty percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2016 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, 32 percent occurred on interstates and freeways, and seven percent occurred on minor roads.

Deaths in large truck crashes by road type, 2016
Road type Deaths %
Interstates and freeways 1,277 32
Other major roads 2,373 60
Minor roads 281 7
Unknown 55 1
All road types 3,986 100

Forty-eight percent of large truck crash deaths in 2016 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, 2016
Time of day Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 362 9 4,019 12 4,381 12
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 461 12 2,804 8 3,265 9
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 593 15 3,053 9 3,646 10
9 a.m. - noon 668 17 2,825 8 3,493 9
Noon - 3 p.m. 667 17 4,120 12 4,787 13
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 575 14 5,406 16 5,981 16
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 350 9 5,905 18 6,255 17
9 p.m. - midnight 303 8 5,070 15 5,373 14
Total* 3,986 100 33,475 100 37,461 100

Sixteen percent of large truck crash deaths in 2016 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, 2016
Day of Week Large truck crashes Other crashes All crashes
Deaths % Deaths % Deaths %
Sunday 257 6 5,552 17 5,809 16
Monday 677 17 4,206 13 4,883 13
Tuesday 608 15 3,836 11 4,444 12
Wednesday 728 18 3,967 12 4,695 13
Thursday 636 16 4,366 13 5,002 13
Friday 692 17 5,134 15 5,826 16
Saturday 388 10 6,414 19 6,802 18
Total* 3,986 100 33,475 100 37,461 100

Comparison of large truck crashes and passenger vehicle crashes

Fifty-five percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2016 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, 2016
Vehicle type No rollover Rollover All crashes
Number % Number % Number %
Large truck 300 45 360 55 660 100
SUV 2,578 53 2,295 47 4,873 100
Pickup 2,639 57 1,959 43 4,598 100
Car 10,838 78 3,092 22 13,930 100
Total* 22,203 73 8,179 27 30,382 100

Sixty-two percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2016 occurred in single-vehicle crashes, compared with 48 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Occupant deaths in large trucks and passenger vehicles by number of vehicles involved, 2016
Crash type Large truck occupants Passenger vehicle occupants
Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 409 62 11,365 48
Multiple-vehicle 251 38 12,428 52
All crashes* 660 100 23,793 100

Nineteen percent of large trucks in fatal crashes in 2016 were involved in single-vehicle crashes; in contrast, 38 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, 2016
Crash type Large trucks Passenger vehicles
Number % Number %
Single vehicle 722 19 15,826 38
Two vehicles 2,340 60 18,611 45
> 2 vehicles 809 21 6,859 17
All crashes* 3,871 100 41,296 100

Forty-four percent of fatally injured large truck drivers in 2016 were using safety belts, compared with 48 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers. Belt use was unknown for 21 percent of fatally injured large truck drivers, compared with 8 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers.

Safety belt use among fatally injured large truck and passenger vehicle drivers, 2016
Belt use Large truck drivers Passenger vehicle drivers
Number % Number %
Belt used 261 44 8,424 48
Unbelted 203 35 7,670 44
Unknown 123 21 1,444 8
Total 587 100 17,538 100

Thirty-one percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes with a large truck in 2016 were in head-on crashes with the truck. Twenty 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, 2016
Large truck Passenger vehicle Total
Front Side Rear Other
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Front 639 31 509 25 121 6 12 1 1281 62
Side 242 12 58 3 2 <1 9 <1 311 15
Rear 413 20 7 <1 2 <1 2 <1 424 21
Other 16 1 5 <1 0 0 19 1 40 2
Total 1310 64 579 28 125 6 42 2 2056 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 2016 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 2016 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, 1982-2016
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 587 16 3 17,538 5,024 29