Citizens and attorneys advocating for change through education, awareness, and legislation.

The Facts and Statistics

“Based on their numbers on the road and the amount they travel, large trucks (tractor-trailers, single-unit trucks, and some cargo vans weighing more than 10,000 pounds) account for more than their share of highway deaths. Large trucks have higher fatal crash rates per mile traveled than passenger vehicles, although a higher percentage of large truck travel occurs on interstates, the safest roads. Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants rather than occupants of large trucks. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars.”—Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Dangers of Large Trucks

Fully loaded, a tractor-trailer may weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and can be over 65 feet long. This significantly affects their on-road capabilities:

Brakes  At 55 mph, a car can usually stop within 130 to 140 feet. A loaded big rig can take 190 to 200 feet to stop, or as much as 450 feet if its brakes are hot from repeated use.

Acceleration  Because of their weight, big rigs take longer to reach cruising speed than passenger vehicles. This makes it more difficult for a trucker to climb hills or rapidly move from lane to lane.

Visibility  Tractor-trailers have large blind spots in the rear, on both sides and even in front of the cab. The rear blind spot can be 200 feet deep; on the sides, it can extend past the end of the trailer and in front, it can be as far as 20 feet.

Maneuverability  Big rigs need extra room to make turns. Drivers often move to the left to make a right turn. Also, on multi-lane roads, truckers prefer the middle lane because it gives them more maneuvering options in case of an emergency ahead. Cars can swerve or duck trouble more readily than a large truck.

National Truck Safety Statistics

  • In 2010, there were 30,196 total fatal crashes in the U.S.
  • Of those, 3,500 were fatal crashes involving large trucks.
  • Large trucks are more likely to be involved in a fatal multi-vehicle crash than are passenger vehicles.
  • Most fatal truck crashes occurred in rural areas (65 percent) during the daytime (66 percent) and on weekdays (84 percent).

National Truck Crash Data

  • 3,413 people died in large truck crashes in 2010. Fourteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 72 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 13 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
  • The annual death toll from truck-related crashes is the equivalent of 36 major airline crashes every year, one crash every week resulting in 95 deaths.
  • Large trucks are involved in 9 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths despite the fact that large trucks make up only 4 percent of all registered vehicles. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • The fatality rate for big combination truck (tractor-trailer) crashes in 2010 was 1.58 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (MVMT).

Source:  NHTSA Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)