Are the nation’s highways getting less safe? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal truck accidents actually declined a little in 2020 (the last year for which figures are available), dropping 1% from 2019. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that truck accident fatalities and injuries are still much more common than they were a decade ago. Since the events of 2020 kept many people off the roads, the slight dip in numbers was probably easily explained.
What the statistics say about truck accidents
Here are some of the hard facts about truck accidents:
- In 2020, there were 4,965 people killed in truck accidents, and 71% of those killed were the occupants of other vehicles. (Another 13% were not even in vehicles when they were killed, so that would include pedestrians and bystanders.) Compare that with just 3,781 people killed in such wrecks in 2011 and you can easily see the difference.
- In 2020, 146,930 people were injured in truck accidents, and 68% of those were the occupants of other vehicles. That’s a massive increase over the 89,021 injured back in 2011.
What exactly is going on? Here are some of the possibilities:
- There are a lot more commercial vehicles on the road in the first place. Thanks to interstate commerce and the popularity of online ordering, deliveries are in high demand. That’s making the roads more crowded.
- There are a lot of truckers on the road who shouldn’t be driving. There’s a national shortage of truck drivers, so companies may be keeping drivers on the road when they should be retired or putting new drivers on the road before they have enough experience.
- The trucks aren’t being properly maintained. With the high demand for deliveries, a lot of smaller trucking companies are struggling to keep up. That can lead to shortcuts on routine maintenance, which means there are trucks on the road with dangerous mechanical issues.
Whatever the reason for the rising danger, it pays to be as alert and focused as you can whenever you’re sharing the road with a big rig. If you are injured or your loved one is killed, find out more about your legal options.