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The dangers of large trucks on the road: by the numbers

Trucking accident lawyers of Fellerman & Ciarimboli.

The numbers don’t lie: per the number of miles traveled, trucks such as tractor-trailers, single-unit trucks, and even heavy cargo vans are involved in an excessive share of all fatal roadway accidents. Most drivers have some understanding of the dangers posed by large trucks, but probably the most indicative measure of how much more dangerous large trucks are (compared to other types of vehicles) is the fatal crash rate. As indicated on the website’s “fact sheet”, the fatal crash rate for large trucks is 2.4 per 100 million miles traveled.  This number may appear relatively insignificant, but it’s not when once you realize that a 2.4 fatal crash rate is 50% more than the rate for all roadway vehicles.  (Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 2005). In addition, almost ¼ of all multi-vehicle accidents that resulted in a fatality was caused by accidents involving large trucks.

Also reported by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is another statistic that represents the magnitude of the danger posed by trucks as opposed to passenger cars: in two-vehicle accidents composed of a passenger car and a large truck, 98% of fatalities were either drivers or passengers of the car, not the truck. More telling statistics: according to the NHTSA in 2005, crashes involving large trucks represented 12% of all traffic fatalities, and 5,190 people died in trucking accidents.

Given these stats, one seemingly logical idea is to increase the weight capacity for large commercial trucks, which might suggest that the percentage of large trucks on the road would decrease; fewer trucks on the road means fewer trucks involved and/or causing fatal accidents. This line of thought does not jive with the efforts to implement just that strategy, however. According to

“Increases in truck size and weight will not decrease the number of trips, resulting in fewer miles traveled, or improve safety by reducing the number of trucks on the highways. Past increases in truck size and weight have not resulted in fewer trucks, fewer trips or fewer miles traveled. The number of trucks on U.S. highways has consistently grown, even after increases in both the sizes and weights of large trucks.” (Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 2005)

This issue isn’t going to go away, and responding to it has been one of the more significant challenges of roadway safety administration in general. What do you think can be done to reduce either the proportion of trucking-related fatal accidents and/or the impact trucks appear to have when it comes to killing passengers or drivers of cars that trucks are in accidents with?


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. (2005, September). Fact sheet: the dangers of large trucks. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.





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