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Commercial Vehicle Accident Fact Sheet

Hundreds of thousands of drivers are involved in commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accidents each year, and many of these incidents result in injuries or even death. Because of the large weight and size of these vehicles, accidents involving an 18-wheeler or other large truck are much more likely to end with severe injuries or fatalities. 

Commercial trucks typically weigh several times as much as the average passenger vehicle and require much longer distances to come to a full stop. Both of these factors increase the risk of a serious injury in these collisions; in fact, studies have shown that accident severity tends to increase in areas with more large trucks on the road. And unfortunately, these occurrences are becoming more and more frequent. The number of serious CMV collisions has increased steadily in the last decade. 

In order to understand why, our experts examined the data surrounding serious truck accidents and found the following relevant facts and trends.

Injuries and Fatalities

Although the overall fatal accident rate decreased in both 2017 and 2018, deaths in commercial vehicle accidents have been on the rise — especially for those in passenger vehicles, who are much more likely to be killed in a commercial vehicle accident. Injury rates, likewise, have increased for commercial vehicle accident victims.

  • In 2017, 4,889 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents.
  • Fatal truck accidents increased by 40 percent between 2009 and 2017.
  • There were approximately 116,000 injuries from commercial vehicle accidents in 2017.
  • Commercial vehicle accidents that resulted in injury increased by 62 percent between 2009 and 2015.
  • In 2017, 68 percent of those killed in commercial vehicle accidents were drivers or occupants in passenger vehicles, while 14 percent were motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Comparatively, just 17 percent of those killed in CMV accidents were commercial vehicle drivers.
  • Trucks account for just 8 percent of highway traffic but are involved in approximately 11 percent of all fatal crashes.

When and Where Accidents Occur

Drivers’ risk of a fatal CMV accident varies depending on the day, time, and type of road on which they are driving. More specifically:

  • Half of all fatalitites in CMV accidents occur between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The hours between noon and 3 p.m. are the most dangerous for CMV accidents: approximately 19 percent of CMV fatalities occur at this time.
  • CMV accidents are much more likely to occur on weekdays than on weekends. Thursday is the most deadly day, with 18 percent of fatalities occurring on this day. By comparison, just 6 percent of fatalities occur on Sundays.
  • Nearly one-third of deaths in fatal CMV accidents occur on interstates and freeways, while another 52 percent happen on other major roads. 

Causes and Contributing Factors

There are many reasons commercial vehicle accidents occur, but driver behavior plays a significant role. Among commercial drivers, factors like driver fatigue, inattention, and impairment contribute to a large percentage of commercial vehicle accidents.

  • Commercial vehicle malfunctions were a factor in approximately 5 percent of fatal CMV accidents. Tire problems were the most frequently cited issue.
  • According to the FMCSA, commercial vehicle driver behavior was a contributing factor in over 30 percent of all CMV accidents. Of these, the most common issues were speeding, distraction, and “impairment,” which includes fatigue, illness, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • In 2017, 252 drivers involved in fatal accidents tested positive for at least one drug.

Commercial Vehicle Crashes in Austin and Texas at Large

More commercial vehicle accidents occur in Texas than in any other state, and most of those incidents occur in urban areas. While Austin’s Travis County does not have the worst record for Texas CMV accidents, many serious CMV crashes occur within county limits.

  • In 2017, there were 649 CMV accident fatalities, making Texas the deadliest state in the nation for large truck accidents.
  • According to TxDoT data, in 2018, there were 37,515 accidents involving commercial vehicles in Texas, resulting in 1,367 suspected serious injuries and 4,880 non-incapacitating injuries.
  • Travis County witnessed 634 CMV accidents in 2018, 23 of which are classified by TxDoT as “suspected serious accidents.” The only other Texas counties with more CMV accidents were Bexar, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Harris, and Tarrant.

If you have been involved in a serious collision with a commercial vehicle, you know just how real the threat of a CMV accidents is. Along with coping with injuries and/or trauma, you also need to act quickly and decisively in order to protect your rights. 

At FVF, our commercial vehicle accident lawyers have helped hundreds of accident victims like you uncover their legal options and decide what actions make sense for their case. We offer a pressure-free no-cost consultation, where we’ll walk through the details of your collision and make professional recommendations based on our years of experience with commercial vehicle accident cases. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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