Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Publication No. FMCSA-RRA-10-004
The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
is to promote the safe operation of commercial vehicles on our Nations
highways. Of the 37,261 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2008,
11% (4,229) died in crashes that involved a large truck. Another 90,000
people were injured in crashes involving large trucks. Only 16% of those
killed and 26% of those injured were occupants of large trucks.
From 1999 to 2008, the number of large trucks involved in
fatal crashes dropped from 4,920 to 4,066down by 17.4%. The number of
large trucks in fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by
large trucks declined in these years from 2.43 to 1.79down 26%. The corresponding
rate for passenger vehicles fell from 1.94 to 1.45down 25% (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Vehicles Involved in Fatal Crashes per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
From 1999 to 2008, the number of large trucks involved
in injury crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by large trucks
declined by 41%, while the rate for passenger vehicles dropped by 32% (Figure
Figure 2. Vehicles Involved in Injury Crashes per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
In 2008, large trucks accounted for 8% of all vehicle miles traveled and
4% of all registered vehicles in the United States. In motor vehicle crashes,
large trucks represented:
8% of vehicles in fatal crashes
2% of vehicles in injury crashes
4% of vehicles in property-damage-only
Large truck tractors pulling semi-trailers accounted for 62% of the large
trucks involved in fatal crashes and 48% of the large trucks involved in
Doubles (truck tractors pulling a semi-trailer and a full trailer) accounted
for only 3% of large trucks involved in fatal and nonfatal crashes. Triples (truck
tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for less than 0.1% of all large
trucks involved in fatal crashes.
Only 3% of large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 2% of large trucks
involved in nonfatal crashes were carrying hazardous materials (HM). HM
was released from the cargo compartment in 30% of the fatal crashes and
13% of the nonfatal crashes.
Only 2% of the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2008
were legally intoxicated (blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams per deciliter
or higher), as compared with 23% of passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes.
Only 3% of the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes had any alcohol
in their bloodstream.
Eighty-one percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes
were reported by police as wearing their safety belts, compared with 62%
of passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes.
In fatal crashes involving large trucks, driver-related factors were recorded
for 37% of the large truck drivers. In comparison, driver-related factors
were recorded for 68% of passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes.
The top two driver-related factors for large trucks and passenger vehicles in
fatal crashes were the same: failure to keep in proper lane (11% for trucks,
26% for passenger vehicles) and driving too fast (8% and 23%, respectively).
The third most common were inattention for truck drivers (6%) and under the
influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication for passenger vehicle drivers (16%).
Large Trucks: Trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
Passenger Vehicles: Passenger cars and light truckssuch as vans, sport
utility vehicles, and pickup truckswith 10,000 pounds GVWR or less.
Fatal Crash Data: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality
Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Nonfatal Crash Data: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, General
Estimates System (GES); and FMCSA, Motor Carrier Management Information
System (MCMIS) crash file.
Vehicle Miles Traveled and Registered Vehicles: Federal Highway Administration.
For more information, contact the Analysis Division at (202) 366-0324,
or visit our web sites at www.fmcsa.dot.gov and ai.fmcsa.dot.gov.