Kansas Big Rig Truck Accident Statistics

/ / Car Accidents, Commercial Vehicle Accidents, Trucking Accidents
Big Rig Semi Truck on Highway

Large trucks, big rigs and other commercial vehicles account for a mere 9% of the total travelled miles on American roads. Yet, they contribute a whopping 10% to all traffic crash fatalities. That’s a massive 3500 deaths every year! In Kansas, the figures are no less worrisome with approximately 3800 wrecks and 87 fatalities involving these big rig vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, nearly 70% of the people who lose their lives in wrecks involving big rigs are passengers of other vehicles. The catastrophic results are understandable when you consider the gargantuan weight of 10,000 lbs. of even the smallest trucks and the 80,000 lbs packed in by the big rigs.

It’s a no-brainer that even a low-speed impact with a truck can leave a car in smithereens and its occupants either severely injured or dead. The higher weight is just a part of the problem. Continue reading to know the other shocking facts and figures about large/heavy truck wrecks

Large trucks: Why are they the most dangerous vehicles on American roads?

  1. The weight is just one part of the risk matrix: These gigantic vehicles weigh 5 to 12 times more than regular passenger vehicles. Even at what may seem like a relatively safe speed of 30 mph, the deceleration experienced by the smaller vehicle would make the danger insurmountable.

In terms of figures, you are looking at a force which would be 5 to 12 times more than if you were to crash into a vehicle that weighs just as much as your car. Let’s take that one step further and you arrive roughly at a force of 30 tons or more against the car and your body. Chances are that while the truck may escape with a few dents and scratches, your car will be completely destroyed.

  • The larger size makes things harder for both drivers: If the enormous weight was not enough to create problems, the large size of these vehicles is another issue. For the truck driver, this creates more and bigger blind spots around the vehicle. For other motorists, the larger size equates to little or no room for error while avoiding a side-to-side collision.  
  • Longer stopping distance: What makes the situation with large trucks particularly dangerous is the fact that the driver cannot slam on the brakes and bring the vehicle to an immediate stop. Doing so would have disastrous consequences not just for the rig but also several vehicles around it.

Even if the truck driver were to take the risk, it would take a good 500 feet for a tractor trailer doing 65 mph to come to a complete halt after the brakes are applied. Even if a truck driver can see you headed right at them, they may not be able to take the decisive action that you have come to expect from regular passenger vehicles.

To create a mental image, that is 80,000 lbs. ploughing into a 5,000-pound vehicle over a distance of two football fields. Is it any wonder that the chances of survival are dismal for the occupants of the smaller car? 

  • Maneuvering a large truck is not easy: It also goes without saying that controlling and maneuvering such a giant vehicle requires a lot of skill and precision. This means that even experienced truck drivers can fall prey to errors and even small lapses in judgment can lead to catastrophic results. 

  • The cargo can add to everybody’s troubles: Last but not the least is the cargo loaded in these large vehicles. Even if the payload is not inherently dangerous (think chemicals and flammable substances) the fact that trucks carry so much of it can itself pose a threat. Moreover, faulty loading practices can impact the stability of the vehicle making it hard to operate, control and maneuver the truck.

Despite these risk factors, the trucking industry is quick to point out that far more deaths on American roads are caused by other vehicles than by large trucks. Indeed, truck collisions account for only around 10% of all fatalities but the number of large truck crashes has increased steadily over the last decade.

In fact, it currently is at its highest it has been since 2008. Also, things look bleaker when you take into account the 150,000 people who suffer serious injuries in such crashes.

So, what’s causing all those large truck accidents?

Researchers from the University of Kansas carried out a two-part study that involved analyzing crash data from nearly 19,000 large truck collisions in the state. They found that over 70% of them involved driver error. According to this study, most truck collisions in Kansas are attributed to:

  1. Inattention: More than 35% of the crashes were caused by drivers who failed to give their full attention to the road ahead and the vehicles around them.
  • Speeding: Over 11% of the wrecks were a result of truck drivers going too fast. As Todd Spencer, the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association explained to Trucks.com, “Drivers feel like they literally have a gun to their head.”

Most truck drivers will speed to not just clock in the maximum distance in their permissible 11 hours of on-road time but to also to cover as many miles as they can before they have to take their mandatory break at the 8-hour mark.

  • Failing to yield right of way: Given that they are controlling a massive vehicle, a lot of truck drivers tend to assume that they have first right over the road. It comes as no surprise that nearly 9% of truck crashes are linked to failure to yield the right of way to smaller vehicles.
  • Bad driving habits: From improper lane changes to following too closely and from improper turns to disregarded traffic signals, all of these and other bad driving habits also play a major role in truck crashes. They are responsible for almost 20% of all collisions.
  • Environmental factors: These contribute 13% to the total number of truck crashes on the roads of Kansas. Animals, rain, snow and wind are among the primary environmental factors that lead to truck crashes.
  • Road and vehicle-related factors: Wet road surface, icy and slushy road and snow packed conditions posed the highest risk, contributing significantly to the 7% of all wrecks that occur due to road conditions.

As far as vehicle problems go, falling cargo was the main safety risk, followed by problems with the tires, brakes and wheels.

Are weather, visibility and road conditions the problem?

As stated earlier, most large truck crashes occur in fair weather conditions and on uncompromised road surface. So here are a few more figures and facts that definitely merit attention:

  • Nearly 60% of large truck collisions occur on rural roads.
  • More than half of all large truck crashes occur on major roads other than freeways and interstates.
  • Thursday is the most dangerous day and the 3 hours between 12 noon to 3 PM are the riskiest.
  • Over 80% of large truck mishaps occur during weekdays.
  • More than 60% of the collisions occur during daytime.
  • 95% of the collisions happen in non-work zone areas.
  • August and October are the most dangerous months.
  • Head-on collisions are the most common, accounting for over 30% of all crashes followed by rear end collisions (19%; rear ended by the other vehicle).
  • I-10 is the most dangerous road, but the I-70 is also on the list of roadways with the highest number of trucking wrecks.

The most important fact and figure of them all!

You will need fair compensation over the difficult recovery and rehabilitation period that follows truck collision injuries.

Your chances of getting fair compensation are diminished to 20% if you go it alone in court or through the negotiation process. This brings you to a few more hard facts:

  • You can increase your chances of receiving your rightful compensation 3.5 times by hiring an experienced law firm.
  • You won’t have to ever talk to an insurance adjuster with a good lawyer to advocate on your behalf.
  • Your law team will take care of all the paperwork, evidence collection, tracking deadlines, negotiations and other pre-trial procedures so you can focus on recovery.

If you don’t want the other side to hardball you into accepting a settlement that will leave you struggling, contact DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers today.