When massive semis get into accidents, the wreckage is often devastating. Besides damaging vehicles and other replaceable objects, people can experience severe injury. Death is a less common but even more heartbreaking outcome.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration compiles data on 18-wheeler mishaps. Their most recent report from 2019 is particularly enlightening.
In 2019, there were approximately 510,000 crashes involving large trucks. Only 1% of those incidents account for someone dying. Despite this, a whopping 29% are the trigger for an injury.
More than half of all fatal wrecks with trucks happen in rural areas. A quarter occurs on highways. The vast majority of lethal accidents, 83%, happen during weekdays.
Operators of semis do not always wear seatbelts. In cases where they do not buckle up before a collision, 42% ultimately perish. Those that do strap in have much better odds of survival.
Drugs are a major reason for 18-wheeler incidents. In fatal crashes, 6% of operators have one or more intoxicants in their systems. That said, speeding is the most common cause of trucking accidents.
Hazardous materials are sometimes aboard these roadworthy behemoths. Toxins spill in 17% of crashes featuring them. When gasoline or other flammable liquids start flowing, everyone is in danger.
Sometimes, a lack of maintenance is the reason for a tragedy. The FMCSA report attributes mechanical issues to 5% of deadly impacts involving semis. Tire failure accounts for 1% of them.
Avoiding injury and death is the responsibility of every long-haul trucker. The choices they make can save lives, including their own.