Each county has limitations in regard to how many hours Semi-truck/large truck drivers can drive per week. In Europe, the maximum hours per workweek is 60, the US, 70, and Australia 72 hours. Despite the limit being stated as 70 hours in the United States, 10% of drivers still work 94 hours or more per week.
Due to the nature of their jobs, truck drivers suffer from certain conditions. Many drivers have chronic exhaustion due to getting an average of 5.7 hours of sleep a night. Also, due to their exposure to diesel exhaust fumes, their risk of lung cancer is 20%-50% higher than the average worker. Other conditions truck drivers are at risk for include obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, 40,327 people died in car accidents in the United States. Of those 40,327 deaths, 4,761 were caused by large truck accidents. That’s 11.8% of all accidents.
Large trucks are defined as having a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds. These vehicles exclude buses and motorhomes. 79% of large trucks involved in fatal crashes were classified as heavy. Heavy trucks are defined as exceeding 26,000 lbs or 13 tons.
Large Truck Accident Statistics U.S.
|Year||Occupants||Other Vehicle||Nonoccupants*||Total Deaths|
*Nonoccupants include pedestrians, pedal cyclists, etc.
In the United States, fatalities resulting from large truck crashes increased 9%, from 4,369 in 2016 to 4,761 in 2017. In Utah, 36 people were killed in semi-truck/large truck accidents. These 36 people make up 9.6% of all the fatality crashes in 2017. The total amount of fatal crashes in 2017 stands as 247 crashes with 273 fatalities and 62,885 accidents occurring on Utah roads.
- Driver Fatigue, Distraction or Intoxication
- Lack of Proper Training
- Speeding, Failure to Yield, Failure to Merge
- Traffic Congestion
- Poorly Tethered, Overweight and Unbalanced Loads
- Poor Weather Conditions
- Mechanical Malfunctions
Factors Affecting Accident and Injury Severity
Regardless of the cause of the accident, the weight of the vehicles involved has the biggest impact on the severity of the accident and the injuries. The size and weight of the vehicles affects the momentum and force with which they collide.
Semi-trucks and large trucks commonly weigh more than 26,000 lbs and can range up to 80,000 lbs. Most passenger vehicles weigh on average 4,000-5,000 lbs. With Semi-trucks and large trucks having 20,000 to 75,000 more pounds in weight, their amount of momentum and force exceeds that of regular-sized SUVs by an exceptional amount.
For example, a semi-truck that is traveling 65 mph needs 360 feet to stop. The average vehicle traveling at the same speed needs 144 feet to stop when the driver is alert and the road is dry. Due to this distance, truck drivers need to look ahead 12-15 seconds on the road and be extremely aware of their surroundings.
Additionally, the size of the other vehicle affects the severity of the accident. Safety features in cars have been enhanced. However, safety tests are based on colliding with a stationary object, such as a concrete barrier, at 40 mph. These tests do not include results from vehicle collisions. When a larger vehicle collides with a smaller vehicle, the small vehicle always sustains more damage regardless of safety features and ratings.
Injuries that may occur
The severity of injury greatly increases with the weight of the vehicle. Therefore, semi-truck accidents often result in fatalities or debilitating injuries. Commonly the spine, pelvic bone, abdomen, and ribs can be damaged. Often vertebrae in the spine can be broken or forced out of alignment. Both of these conditions often result in prolonged back pain and extensive treatment plans. Damage to the spinal cord from these injuries can result in paralysis and may require the passengers of the other vehicle involved to need specialized care for the rest of their lives.
The massive weight of a large truck can result in the crushing of the driver and/or passengers of the other vehicle, and limbs may even have to be amputated. Head injuries may occur which can result in concussions, memory loss, and even loss of language skills.