Trucks are a vital part of our economy, bringing goods to stores, hospitals, gas stations and other businesses nationwide. The trucking industry also provides thousands of jobs to hardworking men and women. Yet for all of the good that tractor trailers bring to our lives, they also bring danger.
In 2017, 4,657 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes across the United States. Here in Pennsylvania, there were 7,367 accidents involving heavy trucks in 2017. 155 of those collisions lead to fatalities — most often (82.5% of the time) involving someone other than the driver of the truck.
While the majority of truck drivers on the road do operate their vehicles properly, there are trucking companies that have a history of hiring inexperienced or unqualified drivers, failing to perform necessary maintenance, or other violations. To help you get a better picture how these companies operate, we have compiled links with detailed safety histories for some of the country’s largest carriers. Learn more below about how to use this data and what you can learn from these numbers.
View Statistics For Specific Carriers
Tracking The Industry: The FMCSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a federal agency established within the Department of Transportation. Its primary goal is to prevent fatalities and injuries related to commercial motor vehicles (such as large trucks and buses). It does this through enforcing safety regulations, targeting high-risk carriers and drivers, improving technologies and safety information systems, strengthening equipment and operating standards, and increasing safety awareness.
All trucking companies are required to report certain information to the FMCSA on an annual basis. This includes basic information about the company, the type of cargo that they haul, and the number of crashes that the carrier has had within a time period. This data is collected and made available to the public on a regular basis.
The FMCSA was established under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 — just one of a series of complex federal and local laws that governs the operation of trucks on our roads and highways. Trucking companies have teams of lawyers and investigators at their disposal to help them comply with these laws and regulations, and to protect them in the event of an accident. If you are involved in a truck accident, a Philadelphia truck accident attorney can help to level the playing field.
How to Compare Truck Accident Statistics
The data compiled by the FMCSA requires some analysis to understand which companies have the best and worst safety records. As an initial matter, it is important to look at the vehicle miles traveled in a given year. This will give you perspective on whether a company has a relatively high or low number of violations based on the number of miles that its drivers are on the road in a given year.
For example, in 2017, Swift Transportation had 15,893 vehicles on the road, and those trucks drove 1,816,140,546 miles. In that period of time, Swift Transportation reported 4,545 accidents. In that same year, J.B. Hunt had 18,259 trucks on the road; those vehicles drove for 1,280,048,122 miles and were involved in 2,444 crashes.
By examining the vehicle miles traveled, you can get a better sense of a company’s safety record. Here it is evident that while Swift Transportation’s drivers traveled more miles than J.B. Hunt’s truckers, they were involved in nearly double the number of accidents. This may indicate that Swift Transportation is less safe than J.B. Hunt.
Beyond miles traveled, you should also examine the severity of the accidents. Many crashes only involve property damage, while others cause injuries or even fatalities. Take a look at these numbers to get a better idea of the overall safety record of a company
Important Findings on U.S. Truck Accidents
From 2016 to 2017, the number of large trucks involved in accidents increased by 2%, from 102,000 to 107,000. In that same time period, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 10%, from 4,251 to 4,657. Truck accidents involving property damage also increased, from 351,000 to 363,000 (a 3% rise).
The majority (57%) of fatal crashes involving large trucks happen in rural areas. Most fatal (83%) and nonfatal (88%) accidents with trucks happen on weekdays. Most (63%) fatal large truck collisions involved two vehicles.
Most truck accidents happen due to a collision with a vehicle in transport. This makes up 75% of fatal accidents and 77% of nonfatal crashes. For 73% of fatal truck accidents, the critical pre-crash event was another vehicle, person, animal or object in the truck’s lane or encroaching into it.
What Else Does the Federal Government Track?
Beyond collecting information on the trucking company’s address, number of trucks, crashes and vehicle miles traveled, the FMCSA also makes a range of information available on carriers licensed by the government. This includes the results of safety inspections, such as:
- Vehicle maintenance
- Controlled substances and alcohol
- Unsafe driving
- Hours of service compliance
- Driver fitness
These reports also detail the number of drivers employed by each trucking company, the carrier’s overall safety rating, and the number of inspections that a company has had.
How To Use This List
While the lists compiled by our firm are meant to be a helpful guide to some of the nation’s top trucking companies, they are not meant to be an exhaustive examination of all trucks on the road across the United States. There are too many trucking companies currently in operation to effectively summarize their safety records for our purposes. Analyzing some of the biggest carriers does give readers a glimpse into truck safety statistics — and how their safety violations can lead to serious, or even deadly, injuries.
Each trucking company has its own commitment to productivity, safety, and their bottom line. As a result, the safety statistics for each carrier may be quite different for each company that you examine. We encourage you to spend time on the FMCSA website, looking up trucking companies that you see in your travels; you may be surprised at the results.
At Solnick & Associates, we are dedicated to helping victims of all types of accidents, including truck crashes, get the compensation that they deserve for their losses. We are skilled at unraveling the facts, law and data involved in truck cases to help you get the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Philadelphia truck accident attorney, contact our firm today at 215-481-9979 or reach out online anytime.