Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released their most recent annual report on large truck accidents. The comprehensive report contains valuable information about statistics and trends surrounding truck crashes that could prove to be very useful in reducing injuries and fatalities caused by accidents involving large trucks. Information about the number and types of vehicles involved, the number of individuals who were injured or killed, the drivers involved, and some of the conditions surrounding large truck crashes in 2014 is included.
Highlights of the FMCSA Report
The report is divided into four chapters: Trends, Crashes, Vehicles and People. Each chapter includes a variety of tables that display information about crash statistics and other information that truck drivers, trucking companies, motor vehicle operators, law enforcement and truck accident attorneys might find useful when evaluating large truck crashes. According to the report:
- In 2014, the number of large trucks and buses that were involved in fatality accidents decreased from 2013. The 5 percent decrease is good news, and could be partially due to improvements in technology and safety features that many newer vehicles are equipped with. With 3,978 large trucks and buses involved in crashes that resulted in at least one fatality, however, there is obvious room for improvement. Stricter enforcement of safety belt usage could be a good place to start. The “People” section of the report reveals that a disturbing 9 percent of (335) truck drivers who were involved in fatality accidents in 2014 were not wearing a safety belt. Sadly, approximately 30 percent of those individuals were either partially ejected or completely ejected from their truck on impact.
- There were 3,903 people killed in large truck related crashes in 2014. Of those who lost their lives, 594 (15.2 percent) were drivers of large trucks, a disturbing 2,155 (55.2 percent) were drivers of other motor vehicles, and 698 (17.9 percent) were passengers of other motor vehicles. The remaining fatalities included pedestrians (305), passengers of large trucks (63), bicyclists (60), and passengers in non-moving vehicles (12).
- Approximately 411,000 large truck crashes were reported to law enforcement officials in 2014. These accidents resulted in an estimated 111,000 people becoming injured. 88,000 large trucks were involved in these injury accidents – a 21 percent increase from 2013, and a 55 percent increase from 2009. Surprisingly, 88 percent of large truck related injury crashes occurred on weekdays. Such an alarming increase in the number of injury crashes involving large trucks in recent years is an indication that further investigation into the cause of these accidents is in order.
- While many individuals believe that larger, multi-trailer semis are at a higher risk for becoming involved in a crash, the FMCSA report indicates otherwise. According to the report, an estimated 63 percent of all fatality accidents involving large trucks included single trailer trucks. Tractors pulling two trailers accounted for approximately 2 percent, and just 0.1 percent of fatality crashes involved trucks with three trailers. Since the majority of large trucks on the road are “singles,” however, an accurate interpretation of the safety of longer trucks is not likely from this report.
- Many of the large truck crashes that occur each year can likely be prevented by practicing safer operation of all motor vehicles. In fact, 34 percent of all large truck related fatality crashes involved at least one truck driver related factor, and 58 percent included a passenger vehicle driver related factor. Not surprisingly, common driver related factors for both types of vehicle drivers included speeding, driver distraction / inattention, DUI, and impairments like extreme fatigue or illness.
- The age, training and experience level of truck drivers may be contributing factors in large truck crashes as well. In 2014, approximately 5 percent (202) of large truck crashes resulting in fatality involved truck drivers who were 25 years of age or younger, and 6 percent (216) involved drivers 66 years of age or older. Alarmingly, 409 of those truck drivers did not have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and 72 were driving while their license was suspended, revoked, canceled, disqualified or otherwise not valid.
Unfortunately, a Chicago truck accident attorney sees thousands of large truck accidents throughout his or her career. Many of these accidents result in significant injuries, permanent disability, and sometimes fatality. Through continued investigation into the events surrounding large truck crashes, increased enforcement of safer driving practices, and the implementation of stricter driving regulations for truckers, it is hoped that a significant decrease in the number of serious injuries and fatalities related to trucking accidents is seen. In an effort to make America’s roadways safer for truckers, motor vehicle drivers and passengers, and pedestrians and bicyclists, the FMCSA has created the Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. The guide provides easier access to most of the information provided in the full report.