Truck-related accident fatalities up slightly

Jan. 1, 2004
THE number of trucks involved in a fatal accident in 2000 increased by 0.8% from 1999, according to figures compiled by the Center for National Truck

THE number of trucks involved in a fatal accident in 2000 increased by 0.8% from 1999, according to figures compiled by the Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics.

The Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents (TIFA) file puts the total at 5,275 trucks, up from 5,233 in 1999. The rate has increased by virtually the same percentage for the past three years of reporting data. The largest increase came in 1997 — 2.4%, from 5,007 to 5,130 trucks.

The most common configuration involved is tractor-semitrailers, which accounted for 60% of TIFA cases in 2000. Second, at 28.8%, were straight trucks with no trailers.

The biggest increase came in doubles (tractors with two trailers) — 7.2%, from 151 in 1999 to 162 in 2000. There were only two more fatalities (from 234 to 236) involving straight trucks pulling trailers (primarily utility trailers, rather than full trailers) and five more involving tractor-semitrailers (from 3,159 to 3,164). Triples (tractors pulling three trailers) remained the same at 2, and bobtail tractors actually went down, from 130 to 123.

Other notable statistics:

  • A total of 5,557 persons were killed in traffic accidents involving a medium or heavy truck. That included 713 truck drivers (up 2.1% from 1999), 111 passengers and four of unknown occupant type, for a total of 828 in-cab fatalities.

    Among other non-truck vehicles, there were 4,297 fatalities, 77% of the total. The Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics says that disproportion is due largely to differences in mass and frame stiffness. Trucks can be 40 times heavier than passenger cars, so in a collision, the car sustains most of the change in velocity. Because of the differences in frame stiffness, the car also absorbs most of the crush.

  • Texas (499), California (396), Florida (321), and Georgia (219) had the greatest number of trucks involved in fatal accidents, accounting for 27.2% of the total. Fatality rates largely correspond with population and industrial concentration.

  • Head-on collisions were among the most common fatal accident configurations involving trucks. In 2000, 650 of the 5,275 involvements were head-on collisions — 99 in the vehicle's lane and 55 in the truck's lane.

  • 49.1% of the trucks involved were of the interstate for-hire variety, followed by interstate private (17.8%), intrastate private (16.6%), and intrastate for-hire (6.8%).

  • 1,822 of the 5,275 fatal accidents (34.5%) involved a truck with a one-way distance classified as “local” (less than 51 miles). Trucks with an unknown distance accounted for 18%, followed by over 500 miles (13.6%).

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.