When large trucks and passenger vehicles collide, the result is often more deadly for the driver and occupants of the smaller vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 4,119 people died in these types of crashes in 2019, and nearly 70% of those who died were riding or driving a personal vehicle, compared to a 16% death rate for the big rig drivers and passengers.
This disproportionate death rate has a number of likely factors and closer scrutiny may reveal the cause and possibly reduce the number of large truck fatalities in the future.
Large trucks weigh a great deal more than passenger vehicles, even when empty. Some can weigh up to 30 times more than some smaller vehicles, which puts commuters and others who travel on freeways with these large trucks at serious risk. Even at slower speeds, drivers of smaller vehicles are much more likely to die in an accident involving a big rig than with another vehicle of comparable size.
Truck braking ability
Large trucks are generally unable to stop quickly because of their size and the loads they typically haul. This makes accidents more likely in certain situations, including:
- Slick roads due to rain or snow
- Low visibility
- An unexpected change in traffic flow
Many large trucks require a greater distance to brake safely/ The risk of a fatal accident may also increase due to fatigued or distracted drivers.
The number of fatalities for drivers and other occupants of passenger vehicles skyrocketed in the past decade. Drivers of these vehicles, as well as those who operate large trucks, can reduce these deaths by driving defensively and remaining aware of the possible dangers they face while on the road.