Massachusetts Truck Accident Lawyer | Trucking crash statistics

A fully loaded tractor-trailer can be over 60 feet long and weigh 80,000 pounds. As per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they can take up to 40 percent longer to come to a complete stop than a passenger vehicle. Given their gigantic size, they’re considerably more difficult to maneuver than passenger vehicles.

Massachusetts Truck Accident Lawyer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) periodically compiles truck accident statistics. Between 2011 and 2013, about 72 percent of all truck crashes with fatalities involved a crash with another vehicle in transit. Aside from fatalities, 82 percent of those involved injuries. As per the most common speeds:

  • 13.9 percent were at speeds between 40 and 45 miles per hour
  • 36 percent were at speeds between 50 and 55 miles per hour
  • 20.5 percent were at speeds between 60 and 65 miles per hour
  • 16.5 percent were at speeds between 70 and 75 miles per hour

 Fatalities and injuries

Most of those crashes occurred between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. There were no significant statistical differences on days of the week so long as the crashes occurred between Monday and Friday. For the 2013 year, there were about 327,000 truck crashes that were reported to police, and 3,541 involved fatalities. About 69,000 of those involved nonfatal injuries.

Causes of truck accidents

Most accidents involving large trucks are preventable. If truckers drive defensively and follow applicable federal regulations and state laws that are intended to promote highway safety, truck accidents would be reduced dramatically across the country. Some of the most common causes of large truck accidents are:

  • Driver distraction from using cellular and navigational devices or radios
  • Driver fatigue from violating hours of service laws
  • Overloading or improper loading that causes jackknifing or rolling of the tractor-trailer
  • Driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions
  • Inadequate driver training or driver inexperience
  • Failure to properly maintain equipment like tires or brakes

When a large truck or tractor-trailer collides with a passenger vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. Both state laws and federal regulations require large trucks and tractor-trailers to have appropriate insurance coverage. Compensation is available for those who are injured or the families of those who are killed, but specific time limits apply. Both evidence and witnesses can disappear. Victims shouldn’t sit on their cases, especially if a governmental entity is involved because even shorter time limits could apply.

A fully loaded tractor trailer is over 60 feet long

A fully loaded tractor trailer is over 60 feet long and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They’re much less maneuverable than a family vehicle or car and given the combination of the speed they travel at and their weight, stopping distances increase drastically. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 750 deaths and over 20,000 injuries per year are caused by drowsy or fatigued commercial truck drivers. Those drivers include drivers of tractor trailers.

A truck driver’s objective is to get a load to its destination as soon as possible. Long hours on hypnotizing roads can lead to fatigue and drowsiness. Before regulations were recently changed, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration permitted tractor trailer drivers to be behind the wheel of their rigs for 80 hours a week. Hours behind the wheel have now been reduced to 70 hours a week, no more than 11 hours at a time. Appropriate records are required to be maintained by drivers, but they’ve been known to falsify, disregard or otherwise circumvent this recordkeeping requirement so they can drive longer and get loads delivered sooner.

Drowsiness and fatigue affect reaction time

Drowsiness and fatigue affect reaction time and the ability to effectively maneuver a tractor trailer. Common accidents attributable to drowsy driving are:

  • Rear-end collisions
  • Blind spot collisions
  • Jackknifing
  • Rollovers
  • Intersection collisions

Given the size, weight and speed that tractor trailers  and 18 wheelers travel at, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety relates that the chances of a fatality in a collision involving a large truck  or big rig and a passenger vehicle increase dramatically. Only two percent of all such fatalities involved truck drivers, while 98% of them involved drivers of passenger vehicles / cars or other individual on or about the roadway. The institute also found that when a big rig driver is behind the wheel for more than eight hours, the risk of an accident involving drowsiness or fatigue doubled.

Truck accident litigation is highly complex

Truck accident litigation is highly complex. It involves arguing state and federal laws while also requiring highly developed legal skills and medical knowledge. Although nearly all truck accidents are preventable, they can cause catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries. We hold truckers and their employers accountable for the injuries they cause. Innocent victims of trucking accidents deserve fair and reasonable compensation. Don’t talk with the trucker’s insurer. It will only try to shift blame over onto you. Call us right away. Innocent victims of trucking accidents deserve fair compensation.

With several high profile incidents of serious injury and fatalities related to trucking accidents in the U.S., including the incident involving actor/comedian, Tracy Morgan, recommendations are being made to increase truck safety.  In fact, fatal truck accidents in the U.S. have risen consistently for the past four years in a row.  There are over two millions truckers in the U.S. and they were involved in approximately 4,000 fatal traffic collisions in 2013, a 17 percent increase from 2009!

Despite these numbers, the recommendations for safety improvement seem to go without action.  In fact, according to recent reports, there have been over 100 recommendation in the past several years from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that have not been implemented or even explored.  These including measures like the following:

  • Development and installation of better anti-collision technology including sensors that would alert Massachusetts and california truck drivers when they are about to strike someone from behind or when they come in close proximity to another vehicle while changing lanes
  • Better limits on driver hours behind the wheel without a rest breaks
  • Better safety enforcement including more frequent and thorough inspections of big rig commercial trucks by federal and state agencies

Despite these calls for more action, Congress seems to be headed in the other direction. In fact, they weakened the tighter regulations for rest periods for truckers and have called for studies on whether this would increase truck traffic during “peak hours”.

Prompt consultation with a trucking accident attorney

There is a  need for prompt consultation with a trucking accident attorney if you or a loved one is involved in a traffic collision with a semi-tractor trailer. Obviously, trucking collisions in Massachusetts, California and across the United States are and will continue to be a major problem across the U.S. from Rhode Island and Mass. to California.  If involved in a crash with a commercial carrier that causes injury or death in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, it is important to seek prompt legal advice from a Mass. truck accident lawyer familiar with prosecuting claims for monetary damages.  Trucker and trucking company negligence claims can come in many forms including:

  • Driver error
  • Driver fatigue
  • Physical issues with the driver causing loss of control of the vehicle
  • Other issues creating a lack of qualification of a driver to operate the truck
  • Truckers under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Equipment failures due to lack of proper maintenance
  • Improper loading of trailers causing weight shifts
  • Unsafe speed issues
  • Various violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act regulations or other rules which govern the interstate trucking industry

Obtaining full compensation for medical expenses, future medical care, emotional trauma and distress requires a thorough and prompt investigation into these issues.  Attorneys who handle truck accident claims are familiar with how to conduct these investigations and how to present claims to trucking companies and their insurance carriers such that the value of the claim is maximized. Don’t be victim twice! Hire a trucking lawyer to get to bottom of these issues!

Truck accidents can result in various types of fatalities, often due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved. Some common types of truck accident deaths include:

  1. Occupant Deaths:
    • Truck Occupants: People inside the truck, including the driver and any passengers, may suffer fatal injuries in an accident.
    • Passenger Vehicle Occupants: Those in smaller vehicles involved in a collision with a truck may experience severe injuries or fatalities.
  2. Pedestrian Fatalities:
    • Pedestrians can be at high risk in truck accidents, especially in urban areas or at intersections.
  3. Cyclist Fatalities:
    • Similar to pedestrians, cyclists are vulnerable in accidents involving large trucks.
  4. Motorcycle Fatalities:
    • Motorcyclists face a higher risk of severe injury or death in accidents with trucks due to the size and weight disparity.
  5. Multiple Vehicle Collisions:
    • Some truck accidents involve multiple vehicles, leading to a higher likelihood of fatalities among various drivers and passengers.
  6. Cargo-Related Incidents:
    • Accidents involving trucks carrying hazardous materials or oversized loads can lead to fatalities not only in the immediate vicinity of the crash but also due to the release of hazardous substances.
  7. Rollovers:
    • Trucks, especially those with high centers of gravity, can be prone to rollovers, which may result in fatalities for occupants and other road users.
  8. Jackknife Accidents:
    • In a jackknife accident, the trailer swings outward, creating a dangerous situation that can lead to fatalities for nearby vehicles.
  9. Underride Collisions:
    • These occur when a smaller vehicle slides underneath the rear or side of a truck, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
  10. Tire Blowouts and Mechanical Failures:
    • Catastrophic events like tire blowouts or other mechanical failures can lead to accidents resulting in fatalities.
  11. Driver Fatigue-Related Incidents:
    • Accidents caused by truck driver fatigue can lead to severe injuries and fatalities due to delayed reactions and impaired decision-making.

It’s essential to note that various factors contribute to truck accidents, including driver behavior, road conditions, weather, and vehicle maintenance. Efforts to improve road safety often involve addressing multiple aspects, including driver training, regulatory measures, and technological advancements in vehicle safety systems.


Bloomberg News, Trucking Safety Should be A Higher U.S. Priority NTSB Says, (Jan. 13, 2015)