Truck accidents have the potential to cause significant injury and loss of life. Because of the size and weight of these vehicles and their cargo, a collision with a truck is often much more serious than a collision with another automobile. 

Keep yourself safe by understanding the facts about how and why truck crashes occur. 

Factors in truck accidents 

The Insurance Institute on Highway Safety reports that the braking ability of trucks is a major factor in highway accidents. The agency notes that a fully-loaded tractor-trailer needs between 20% to 40% more space to stop than a car does, and even more when the roads are slippery or wet. 

Federal regulations allow truck drivers to travel for up to 11 hours without resting. Data shows that many truckers drive for even longer, creating fatigue that sometimes contributes to accidents. 

In addition, the higher ground clearance of trucks can lead to accidents in which a smaller vehicle passes underneath. Of course, when trucks are not well maintained, the risk for accidents increases. 

Truck accident statistics 

The IIHS reports 4,136 truck accident fatalities in 2018, an increase of 31% since the most recent low point in 2009. Among these fatalities: 

  • 67% were passenger vehicle drivers or occupants 
  • 16% were truck drivers or occupants 
  • 15% were walking, biking or riding a motorcycle 

Truck accidents represented 11% of overall motor vehicle deaths in 2018. Of these accidents, 74% involved tractor-trailers. In 45% of these accidents, the truck rolled over. 

The 2018 data shows that of the truck accidents that year: 

  • 52% occurred on major non-freeway roads 
  • 33% occurred on interstates or freeways 
  • 15% occurred on minor roads 

What You Can Do

When you are driving your vehicle, protect yourself from serious injury with defensive driving techniques. Stay out of the truck driver’s blind spots and leave plenty of room between the truck and your car. In addition, never pull out in front of a truck without giving the driver enough room to stop if needed.