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Fatal Truck Accidents in Decline Despite Recent Uptick in Crashes

October 06, 2015

The number of fatal truck and bus crashes rose slightly in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available), but has decreased significantly compared to a decade earlier. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports there were 3,906 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2013, which is a 2 percent increase over the prior year, and 280 fatal bus crashes, which is an 11 percent increase. Compared to 2003, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks has declined by 17 percent, while the number of buses involved in fatal crashes has fallen by 4 percent.

An accident between a car and truck is more likely to cause serious or fatal injuries compared to a car versus car accident. That’s because these commercial vehicles are larger and heavier, and take longer to slow down, stop or swerve to avoid a collision. Buses have a greater risk of injuries and fatalities not only because of their size and weight, but because bus passengers are rarely protected by safety features such as seatbelts. In the event of a fire or bus that has tipped over, passengers may have difficulty exiting the vehicle if emergency windows are hard to operate and doors are blocked.

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If you have been injured, or a loved one has been hurt or killed in an accident with a bus or large truck, a Chicago truck accident attorney can help you understand your legal options. Under Illinois personal injury laws, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if the other driver bears all or most responsibility for the accident.

Large Truck Accident Statistics

The DOT’s Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2013 reports:

“In 2013, 4,186 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 3-percent increase from 2012. From 2012 to 2013, large truck and bus fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by all motor vehicles remained steady at 0.142.”

In the 10 years between 2003 and 2013:

  • The number of fatal large truck crashes declined 17 percent.
  • The number of injury-producing large truck crashes declined 18 percent.
  • The number of large truck crashes that caused property damage, but didn’t injure or kill anyone, decreased by 27 percent.
  • The number of fatal bus crashes decreased 4 percent.
  • Intercity buses were involved in 13 percent of all bus crashes, school buses accounted for 41 percent of all bus crashes and transit buses accounted for 33 percent of bus accidents.

When looked at on an annual basis:

  • Fatal truck accidents increased by 2 percent between 2012 and 2013.
  • Injury-producing truck accidents decreased by 5 percent.
  • Truck accidents that caused property damage, but no injuries or deaths, increased by 5 percent.
  • Fatal bus accidents increased by 11 percent.

The numbers generally correspond to nationwide trends involving all types of motor vehicle accidents. For example, 2,889,000 people were injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents in 2003, compared to 2,313,000 injuries in 2013. Although the number of injuries has declined significantly over the last decade, it’s up slightly compared to lows of 2,217,000 injuries in both 2009 and 2011.

Types of Accidents Leading to Fatalities

The report also looks at the types of large truck accidents that are leading to fatalities.

In 2013, 3,525 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Of those, 1,438 of the people who were killed were riding in passenger cars and 1,164 were in light trucks (which includes pick-up trucks, vans and sports utility vehicles).

Another 427 of the fatalities were riding in large trucks involved in single-vehicle crashes and 264 were large truck occupants involved in multi-vehicle accidents. Sixteen fatalities were in buses involved in crashes with large trucks, and 204 fatalities were motorcycle riders. An additional 12 fatalities were not categorized.

Of the 439 non-motorists who were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2013, 338 were pedestrians and 78 were bicyclists. Twenty-three of the fatalities were not categorized.

Alcohol Plays a Role in Truck & Bus Crashes

Many of the accidents involving buses and trucks involved at least one driver who was under the influence of alcohol:

  • 3.9 percent of large truck drivers had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.01 and 2.4 percent had a BAC of at least 0.08.
  • 23.3 percent of the passenger car drivers had a BAC of at least 0.01 and 22.9 percent had a BAC of at least 0.08.
  • 25 percent of light truck drivers had a BAC of at least 0.01 and 21.4 percent had a BAC of at least 0.08.
  • 34.5 percent of motorcyclists had a BAC of at least 0.01 and 27.2 percent had a BAC of at least 0.08.

If You’ve Been Involved in an Accident with a Truck or Bus

If you or a family member has been hurt or killed in a trucking accident or bus crash, call the Chicago trucking accident attorneys at Cogan & Power, P.C., at (312) 477-2500. Our personal injury lawyers can arrange a free consultation with you at our offices or a location that’s convenient to you. We can review the specific details of your accident and make a preliminary determination of whether you have a valid legal claim against the driver of the truck, bus or another motor vehicle involved in the accident.

If you have been injured in a personal injury or medical malpractice accident, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago accident and injury law firm of Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free case consultation, so that we can help you begin the process of recovery as soon as possible. If you cannot come to our offices in downtown Chicago, we will come to you. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you will not pay any fee unless we get you compensation.