The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) estimates more than 6,500 heavy truck accidents each year. Whether you live in the Seattle area or elsewhere in Washington, you face the risk of being involved in a truck accident. Truck accidents cause more damage, more severe injury, and have a higher likelihood of fatality than other types of traffic collisions. The average weight of a semi can be up to 30 times more than the average weight of regular motor vehicles, making truck accidents especially dangerous. This truck accident statistics guide offers in depth reporting and analysis of the most recent limited truck crash data from WSDOT and the more complete and most recent crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you have sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, you might be eligible for compensation. Contact the skilled legal team at Boohoff Law in Seattle at (877) 999-9999 for a free consultation to determine your eligibility to recover damages and learn how we can assist you after a truck accident.
How Many Truck Accidents Occur in Washington and Across the Nation Each Year?
The FMCSA estimates 4,237 fatal crashes including 4,761 fatalities involving large trucks across the nation in 2017, an increase from almost 3,900 in 2016, and a little over 3,600 in 2015. Although these numbers represent an increase from an all time low of under 3,000 crashes in 2009, they are much lower than the high amount of crashes in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Injury collisions involving trucks remain plentiful. In recent years, more than 100,000 large trucks were involved in injury crashes on United States roads and highways, representing a drastic increase since 2009’s all time low of 53,000 large trucks involved in injury collisions.
In 2017, more 6,553 heavy truck accidents occurred in Washington, including 48 fatalities. Almost 4,000 of those crashes, and 36 fatalities occurred on Washington state roads. Less than 600 truck accident injury crashes occurred on county roads, but almost 2,000 injury crashes occurred on Washington’s city streets.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents might occur for a wide array of reasons, most of which are preventable. The FMCSA implements and enforces safety regulations for commercial truck drivers and trucking companies, as well as recording national data on truck crashes in the United States. Driver-related factors account for more than 30 percent of all truck accidents each year. The following includes the most commonly cited driver-related factors leading to fatal truck accidents:
- Speeding. In 2017, the majority of fatal truck accidents caused by truck drivers involved speeding. This includes traveling over the posted speed limit and traveling too fast for conditions, such as inclement weather or heavy traffic.
- Distracted driving. Truckers who use cell phones break state and federal law and put others at risk for an accident. Other distractions such as eating, daydreaming, and adjusting the radio also lead to truck accidents. In 2017, 263 truck driver-caused fatal accidents occurred because of distracted driving.
- Failure to yield. Truckers who didn’t yield for other drivers caused 208 fatal crashes across the nation in 2017.
- Impairment. The FMCSA lumps drinking and driving, drugged driving, fatigued driving, and illness related impairment into the same category. In 2017, impaired truckers caused 184 fatal crashes in the United States. See below for a complete breakdown of impairment statistics.
- Careless driving. Careless truck drivers caused 183 fatal crashes in 2017.
- Failure to keep in the proper lane. Truckers who didn’t stay in their designated lane caused 136 fatal crashes in 2017.
- Failure to obey traffic devices. Truck drivers who didn’t stop at stop signs, ignoring stoplights, and didn’t slow down in safety zones caused 125 fatal crashes in 2017. Many drivers don’t intentionally disobey signals; their failure is often a result of distracted driving.
- Failure to follow properly. Large trucks need more time and distance to completely stop than the average vehicle. When truckers improperly follow another vehicle too closely, a rear-end collision is likely. In 2017, truckers are responsible for 95 fatal crashes as a result of following vehicles too closely.
Critical Pre-crash Events
When law enforcement investigates fatal truck accidents, they look to critical pre-crash events as one of the ways to determine fault. The FMCSA reports the following critical pre-crash events leading up to a fatal truck accident:
- In 36.6 percent of fatal truck crashes in 2017, another vehicle encroached into a truck’s lane. Heavy trucks need triple the distance to slow down or stop than regular motor vehicles, making it extremely dangerous to cut-off a truck in traffic. The FMCSA defines this category as “events in which encroachment by another vehicle from areas such as an adjacent lane (traveling in the same or opposite direction), crossing the street, driveway, parking lane, or highway entrance made the crash imminent.”
- 27.5 percent of 2017’s fatal truck crashes were a result of another vehicle in the same lane as the large truck making some movement to cause the crash.
- In a little more than 20 percent of the large truck crashes in 2017, the movement of the large truck was the precursor to a fatal accident. FMSCA defines large truck movement as including “events such as crossing an intersection, turning left or right, crossing lane lines, and deceleration.”
- Other critical pre-crash events include the truck driver losing control (3.2 percent), pedestrian (6.5 percent), and cyclists (1.8 percent).
Driver Impairment and Truck Accidents
As previously mentioned, the FMCSA includes a wide variety of scenarios under the umbrella of truck driver impairment. While they include impairment as one of the major driver-related factors in fatal truck crashes, they also offer further insights into this broad category. When looking closer at the individual impairment factors, they aren’t as common as one may think in fatal truck accidents. Unfortunately, the FMCSA does not have injury crash information for comparison. The following provides more information and statistics about specific driver impairments which led to fatal truck accidents in 2017:
- Almost 2 percent of fatal truck accidents in 2017 were a result of truckers who were driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication.
- A little over 1 percent of trucker drivers responsible for fatal crashes in 2017 were asleep or driving while fatigued.
- Less than 1 percent of truckers became ill or blacked out causing a fatal accident in 2017.
Who Is Involved in Truck Accidents?
Female and male drivers of all ages have been involved in truck accidents, but some groups are more prone to accidents than others. Some statistics regarding particular groups of people and truck accidents include:
- The vast majority of the 4,600 truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were between the ages of 25 and 66. Only 270 were under the age of 25, and 299 over the age of 66.
- The majority of those killed in fatal truck crashes in 2017 were between 26 and 35 years old, which is consistent with most previous years’ data. When factoring sex into the equation, the majority of fatalities for males (17 percent) fell in the 26 to 35 age range, while the majority of female truck accident fatalities (16.5 percent) were between 18 and 25.
- More than double the amount of males (3,423) died in truck accident fatalities than females (1,366).
Many different people might be involved in a fatal truck accident, but truck drivers, who are protected by their big rigs, don’t die as frequently as other motorists. According to the FMCSA, those who were killed in large truck accidents in 2017 include:
- Driver of Large Truck (591)
- Driver of Other Motor Vehicle (2,327)
- Passenger of Large Truck (74)
- Passenger of Other Motor Vehicle (685)
- Pedestrian (337)
- Bicyclists (55)
How Often Do Certain Types of Truck Accidents Happen?
Many different types of collisions occur between trucks and other vehicles, but some are more common than others. The FMCSA gathers data on the frequency of each of the following types of fatal truck accidents:
- In 2017, 28.7 percent of all fatal truck accidents were angle collisions. Angle collisions often occur on highways when a truck or another driver is changing lines.
- A little more than 24 percent of fatal truck accidents in 2017 were rear-end collisions, often a result of vehicles or trucks following too closely, especially in heavy traffic.
- Head-on collisions constitute 14.4 percent of all fatal truck collisions in 2017.
- Sideswipes in both directions made up approximately 7 percent of fatal truck crashes in 2017.
When Do Truck Accidents Occur?
You might get injured or lose a family member in a truck accident at any time, day or night, but the data show truck accidents occur with a higher frequency at some days and times more than others.
- According to the FMCSA, the most likely time of day to die in a truck accident is between noon. and 3 p.m. In 2017, 18.8 percent of fatal truck crashes occurred during this time period.
- A little over 16 percent of fatal truck crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. in 2017.
- Approximately 15 percent of 2017’s fatal truck crashes occurred between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and between 9 a.m. and noon.
- Those who drive between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. are least likely to be involved in a fatal truck accident, suggesting the traffic level has more to do with fatal truck accidents than the actual time of day. Less than 8 percent of fatal truck crashes occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight and between midnight and 3 a.m.
Under What Conditions Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Many different factors come into play when a truck accident happens. Some factors which might play a part include weather conditions, road conditions, and light conditions. The FMCSA provides data about all of these conditions during fatal truck accidents.
- Typically, more than two-thirds of fatal truck crashes take place on clear days. In 2017, 66.1 percent of fatal truck accidents were on clear days.
- 14.6 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred on cloudy days in 2017.
- 8.1 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred when it was raining in 2017.
- Surprisingly, only 1.6 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred during snow in 2017.
- In fact, 1.8 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred when fog, smoke, or smog was present.
- Many assume traffic accidents always occur on wet or snowy roads, but in 2017, 82.6 percent of fatal truck accidents occurred on dry roads, consistent with previous years’ data.
- 12. 6 percent of fatal truck crashes occurred on wet roads in 2017.
- Ice, frost, slush, standing water, mud, dirt, gravel, and sand comprise less than 3 percent of road surface conditions for fatal truck accidents in 2017.
- Each year, a little more than 61 percent of fatal collisions involving large trucks occur during daylight hours.
- Less than 5 percent of fatal truck crashes occurred at dawn or dusk in 2017.
- Of the fatal truck accidents which occurred when it was dark in 2017, 24.1 percent occurred in unlighted areas, and 9.6 percent occurred in areas which were well lit.
Contact a Seattle Truck Accident Attorney Today
Being involved in or losing a loved one in a truck accident is a devastating life event. We understand the pain, stress, and financial burden which you might be facing and are here to help you through this challenging time. Our compassionate legal team at Boohoff Law in Seattle can handle the details of your case, including investigating the accident, speaking with insurance companies, and negotiating a settlement. When trucking companies and their insurance carriers don’t want to offer full and fair compensation for losses you’ve incurred as a result of a truck accident, we will aggressively litigate your case and strive for the best possible outcome.
Contact the skilled truck accident lawyers at Boohoff Law today at (877) 999-9999 for a free consultation. If you choose us to represent you, we handle most truck accident cases on contingency, collecting attorney fees only from any compensation we secure for you.