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Truck Accident Statistics

When a passenger vehicle collides with a semi-truck, the results can be devastating. All too often, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are killed by the collision. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirms that “most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants.”

Passenger vehicle occupants are especially vulnerable to truck accidents because commercial big rigs weigh 20 - 30 times more than regular cars and trucks and have greater ground clearance. Smaller vehicles can slide under tractor-trailers and be crushed, leaving little room for survivors and a lot of room for serious injuries.

Another factor that contributes to truck accidents the decreased braking capabilities of 18-wheelers. If there is a hazard in the road, loaded trucks can take 20 - 40% longer to come to a complete stop, which frequently means truck drivers fail to avoid accidents. If weather conditions are bad or the truck is improperly maintained, the likelihood of a collision is even higher.

Truck drivers also have a bad reputation for fatigued or drowsy driving. Many drivers violate federal hours-of-service regulations to appease their employer or protect their economic interests.

Combined, all of these elements create a series of troubling statistics.

The Numbers

In 2018, a total of 4,136 people died in large truck crashes. The majority of these victims (67%) were passenger vehicle occupants, but the collisions also posed a threat to truck drivers (16%) and pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists (15%). Fatal truck accidents decreased slightly from 2017 but have increased by 31% since 2009, the year with the lowest fatal truck accident rate since the IIHS began gathering data in 1975.

When and Where Truck Accidents Take Place

Most people encounter large trucks on interstates and freeways, but large truck crashes occur on other major roads 52% of the time. About 33% of accidents do occur on freeways and interstates, and 14% of collisions happen on minor roads.

Truck accidents happen most often during the day, as well. The most dangerous time and the period in which 50% of fatal truck accidents took place in 2018 is between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. The period between noon and 3 p.m. is especially dangerous, as are rush hours in the morning and evening. Crashes are also more common during the week. Only 16% of these accidents occurred on the weekend in 2018.

Most Common Types of Truck Accidents

Rollovers and jackknife accidents are the most common types of truck crashes. In 2018, 45% of fatal truck accidents involved rollovers. A crash is classified as a rollover anytime the vehicle tips onto its side or roof during a crash. Jackknifes take place when a large truck skids and its trailer forms a 90-degree angle with the driver’s cab.


Truck accidents are caused by a number of factors and are especially dangerous for passenger vehicle occupants. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, however, you are more than just a statistic. At Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC, we have been handling truck accident cases since 1999. Our attorneys have 125 years of combined legal experience and can help you recover after a truck driver or negligent shipping company causes a life-changing accident.

Tell us about your case today by calling (843) 968-0886 or requesting a free consultation online.