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Preliminary Data Indicates Rise in Trucking Fatalities

By David Boehrer | Posted on July 19, 2019

A 2018 preliminary report shows a 3 percent rise in trucking fatalities over the number of trucking accident deaths in 2017.

Trucking Fatalities on the Rise

The National Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that deadly accidents involving large trucks rose by 3%  in 2018. Although traffic fatalities have been decreasing for other types of motor vehicles, fatalities in commercial trucking accidents are still rising. NHTSA data from 2017 showed a 9%  increase in truck-involved fatalities. In 2017, large commercial trucking accidents killed a total of 4,761 people, an increase of 392 deaths over 2016 deaths. Fatality reports for 2017 show the following:

  • Truck Driver Deaths – Collisions with a single vehicle killed 498 truck drivers
  • Truck Driver Deaths – Collisions with multiple vehicles killed 343 truck drivers
  • Occupants of Other Vehicles – Collisions with a large truck killed 3,450 people
  • Non-Occupants – Collisions with a large truck killed 470 motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, collisions with a large, commercial truck usually result in severe injuries or death, because of the size and weight of the truck. When crashes occur, a truck accident lawyer often sees limb amputations, spinal injuries, head trauma, and brain injuries. Accident victims who survive often suffer life-long injuries, physical or mental disabilities, and chronic pain.

What’s Causing a Rise in Deaths?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) blames rising trucking accidents and fatalities on truck driver errors.


In the trucking industry, drivers face delivery deadlines that must be met or they may face penalties. Some interstate truck drivers get paid by the total miles driven per day. This creates an incentive to speed drive as many miles as possible in a given day.


Commercial truckers face long hours on the road, so distractions help with boredom and lack of sleep. Distracted driving commonly includes talking and texting on a cell phone, changing radio stations, surfing the Internet, watching videos, and eating and drinking.


Truck driver fatigue is a major problem and cause of truck-related crashes. Drowsy drivers often doze off while driving. They make bad judgments behind the wheel that impact their reaction times and depth perception.

Alcohol and/or Drugs

Although commercial truckers are required to meet strict regulations for alcohol and/or drug use, some drivers don’t obey them. Alcohol and drug use with marijuana, cocaine, and opioids are contributing to many trucking fatalities.

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