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What Percentage Of Accidents Are Caused By Semi-Trucks?

semi-truck-accident-claimWith a total of 241 state and federal highways, it’s no wonder Indiana sees a lot of semi-truck traffic traveling through and within the state. Every year, trucks carry an estimated 724 million tons of freight on Indiana roadways. Fully loaded, these semis can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, though they may tip the scales at 90,000 pounds on some roads, thanks to an exemption to federal law. In 2020, there were almost four million semi-trucks registered in the U.S. compared to 281 million passenger vehicles. Though there are significantly more cars on the road than large trucks, the size of semis makes them harder to maneuver and stop, increasing the potential for an accident when the truck driver is distracted or tired or when driving conditions are hazardous. Getting hit by one of these giant pieces of machinery is serious. Even at relatively low speeds, passenger vehicle occupants may sustain serious injuries. How common are truck accidents?

Truck Accident Statistics: U.S.

Nationally, police reports indicated that there were an estimated 6,756,000 traffic accidents that resulted in either injuries or fatalities in 2019. There were 538,000 large trucks (weighing more than 26,000 pounds) involved in crashes that led to deaths or injuries that same year. Approximately eight percent of all traffic accidents in the U.S. involve a semi-truck, though large trucks make up only 1.4 percent of all vehicles on the roads. Around 5,005 people lost their lives and another 159,000 people were injured in truck accidents. Occupants of other vehicles made up 71 percent of the fatalities while 11 percent were pedestrians or cyclists. The remaining 18 percent of fatalities were the truck occupants. Likewise, occupants of other vehicles made up 69% of those injured in truck accidents while 29 percent were tractor-trailer occupants and three percent were pedestrians or cyclists.

Truck Accident Causes

Multiple factors can contribute to traffic crashes, including weather and road conditions, mechanical failures or malfunction and driver-related causes. Driver-related factors contribute to a significant number of accidents. However, in 30 percent of the fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2019, driver-related factors were unknown. The number one driver behavior leading to an accident was speeding or driving too fast for conditions, blamed for 17.2 percent of all car crashes. Driving under the influence was the second leading cause, at 10.1 percent. Distracted driving (texting, talking on the phone, eating) was the sixth most common contributor at 5.9 percent. In accidents involving large trucks, the truck driver is often, though not always, responsible for the collision. Semis are also more likely to get involved in fatal multi-vehicle collisions. When the truck driver was faulted for the accident, speeding was again the number one cause, contributing to 12.1 percent of fatal single-car incidents and 6.4 percent of fatal multi-vehicle crashes. Other common truck driver-related factors include:

  • Inattention/distraction
  • Impairment due to fatigue, alcohol or illness
  • Failure to yield
  • Careless/reckless driving
  • Improper lane usage
  • Failure to obey traffic rules
  • Following too close
  • Overcorrecting

In addition to driver behavior, other factors can lead to a truck accident, such as tire blowouts, improperly loaded or overloaded cargo or objects in the roadway. Truck drivers were cited for at least one driver-related factor in 50 percent of single-vehicle accidents and 29 percent of multi-car crashes.

Truck Accident Statistics: Indiana

In Indiana, there were a total of 219,112 accidents in 2017, with 14,877 (or 6.8 percent) of those involving a large truck. Though the truck collision rate in the state is slightly below the national rate 125 people lost their lives and another 1,860 were injured in accidents involving a semi. A majority of semi accidents occur from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon (but before the typical work-week rush hour). Of the 17,048 commercial vehicle occupants involved in accidents in Indiana in 2017, 1,071 sustained injuries and 18 died. There were 11,788 passenger vehicle occupants involved in truck crashes, and of those, 124 lost their lives, and 2,179 were injured. Seventy-three non-motorists were involved in these accidents, with 10 fatalities and 47 injuries.

Accident Causes

In 2017, commercial vehicle drivers caused a total of 52.4 percent of multi-vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles (weighing more than 10,000 pounds) while other motorists caused 46.7 percent of those accidents. In both cases, driver-related factors were largely to blame. When commercial drivers were at fault in multi-vehicle crashes, the leading factors in the crashes included:

  • Unsafe lane movement in 1,510 accidents
  • Following too closely in 1,123 crashes
  • Unsafe backing in 1,052 incidents
  • Improper turning in 798 collisions
  • Failure to yield in 785 accidents
  • Improper lane usage in 368 crashes
  • Improper passing in 125 incidents
  • Distracted driving in 121 collisions

In addition, truck-related factors contributed to 368 multi-car traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles.

Indiana Insurance Regulations

Indiana is an at-fault insurance state, meaning that whoever is liable for the accident is responsible for the damages and that driver’s insurance covers the losses. If you sustain injuries in a truck accident, you may still be liable for some of your injuries if you are partially at fault. However, if the insurance companies determine that you are 51 percent or more at fault you cannot collect damages from the truck driver’s insurance company. A personal injury lawyer can help you fight for fair compensation, negotiating with the insurance companies and filing a lawsuit when necessary.

Passenger Vehicle Coverage

Two or more drivers can share the blame for the accident and they would each be responsible for the percentage of the damages they caused. Auto insurance requirements include liability coverage that pays for bodily injury and property damage in any accident you are at fault for. Indiana law also requires car owners to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Commercial Vehicle Coverage

Commercial vehicle coverage requirements depend on the type of cargo and the truck’s weight. Any carrier, including those driving semis, operating trucks that weigh more than 10,000 pounds gross weight and transporting nonhazardous cargo must have a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage. If the driver is transporting hazardous cargo, the insurance requirement increases to anywhere from $1-5 million.

Indiana’s Comparative Negligence Law

If you sustain injuries in a truck collision, an attorney who has experience with truck accident cases can help you fight for your claim. The truck driver’s insurance company will do what they can to lower their costs, which means they will try to put as much of the blame as possible on you. If you have to fight your case in court, Indiana’s modified comparative negligence law impacts whether you get compensation in your case and how much. The court examines the facts of the case and assigns a percentage of fault to each party.   As with the insurance companies, the amount you receive depends on how much fault you are assigned. If you are 20 percent to blame for the accident, your compensation is reduced by the same percentage. However, if the judge or jury determines that you were 51 percent or more at fault for the accident, you cannot collect any compensation from the truck driver. Having an attorney on your side may improve your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.

Indiana Personal Injury Attorneys

Hensley Legal Group has the experience you need to stand up against the trucking industry’s aggressive insurance companies. We know how devastating a truck accident can be, and we take swift action to fight for your right to fair compensation. Get in touch with us today for a free case review.

Sources:
https://www.in.gov/indot/about-indot/central-office/asset-data-collection/indiana-road-system-facts/
https://www.in.gov/indot/multimodal/freight/
https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/policy/rpt_congress/truck_sw_laws/app_a.htm#in
https://www.trucking.org/economics-and-industry-data
https://www.statista.com/statistics/859950/vehicles-in-operation-by-quarter-united-states/
https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813209
https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813110
https://www.in.gov/cji/research/files/Highway_Safety_Commercial_Vehicles_2017.pdf
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2019
https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813141
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/people-table-30-drivers-large-trucks-fatal-crashes-number-vehicles-5
https://www.in.gov/idoi/consumer-services/types-of-insurance/auto-insurance/
https://www.in.gov/dor/files/cmv-guidebook.pdf
https://law.justia.com/codes/indiana/2017/title-34/article-51/chapter-2/section-34-51-2-6/