About 5,000 people are killed in truck accidents in the United States each year.
According to the most recent data from the National Safety Council (NSC), 4,842 large trucks (with a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,000 pounds) were involved in fatal accidents in 2020, causing 4,965 deaths. Though large trucks accounted for only 4% of all registered vehicles, they accounted for 10% of total vehicle miles traveled and 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal traffic accidents.
Which states have the most truck accidents and the highest truck accident rates? Which states have the fewest trucking crashes? We’ll answer these questions and offer in-depth information on which states have the most and least collisions involving semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial trucks.
What State Has the Most Truck Accidents?
Texas, California, and Florida consistently lead the nation with the most truck accidents.
According to the most recent statistics from the FMCSA, in 2019:
- There were 579 fatal truck accidents in Texas.
- There were 355 fatal truck accidents in California.
- There were 311 fatal truck accidents in Florida.
Texas, California, and Florida also consistently have the most truck accident fatalities.
According to the most recent statistics from the NSC, in 2020:
- There were 643 truck accident fatalities in Texas.
- There were 398 truck accident fatalities in California.
- There were 344 truck accident fatalities in Florida.
These states have the highest numbers of trucking collisions and fatalities. This can be attributed to the fact that they also have the most trucks on their roads and the most vehicle miles traveled, so we’ll also consider which states have the highest truck accident rates.
What State Has the Highest Rate of Truck Accidents?
In Wyoming, 25% of vehicles involved in fatal collisions in 2019 were large trucks, the highest rate in the country.
According to 2019 state truck accident statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following states round out those with the highest percentage of large trucks involved in fatal traffic accidents:
- Nebraska: 17%
- Vermont: 16.2%
- North Dakota: 15.6%
- Kansas: 15.1%
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also offers information on commercial motor vehicle fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Although these statistics also include buses, they shed light on overall accident rates across the United States.
Wyoming had the highest commercial vehicle accident rate in 2019, with .4 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
The following states rounded out the top five commercial vehicle accident rates:
- Nebraska: .31
- New Mexico: .28
- Montana: .27
- Kansas: .27
What State Has the Least Truck Accidents?
In 2019, the District of Columbia had no fatal truck accidents, the lowest in the country.
After the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire consistently have the lowest number of fatal truck accidents in the United States.
According to FMCSA statistics from 2019:
- There were 3 fatal truck accidents in Hawaii.
- There were 4 fatal truck accidents in Rhode Island.
- There were 6 fatal truck accidents in New Hampshire.
What State Has the Lowest Rate of Truck Accidents?
In 2019, no large trucks in the District of Columbia were involved in fatal crashes.
According to NHTSA statistics, the following states had the lowest percentages of large trucks in fatal traffic accidents in 2019:
- New Hampshire: 4.2%
- Rhode Island: 5.4%
- Arizona: 6.4%
- Michigan and Massachusetts: 7.1%
These percentages paint a slightly different picture than looking at the overall number of truck accidents or truck accident fatalities. Although the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island remain on the list of states with the lowest percentage of large trucks involved in fatal collisions, Arizona makes the cut, and so do Michigan and Massachusetts. Florida narrowly misses the top 5 with 7.2% — even though the state has the third-highest number of truck accidents and fatalities in the country.
We can get an even better picture of the states with the lowest truck accident rates by looking at statistics from the FMCSA on commercial vehicle accident fatalities based on vehicle miles traveled.
The District of Columbia had a commercial vehicle accident rate of 0% in 2019.
According to FMCSA statistics, the following states had the lowest rates per million vehicle miles traveled in 2019:
- Hawaii: .036
- New Hampshire: .051
- Massachusetts: .052
- Rhode Island: .053
These numbers also include buses (which, like large trucks, are commercial vehicles), but they more closely follow the figures we compiled for states with the lowest numbers of truck crashes and fatalities.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
36.3% of fatal truck accidents in 2019 were caused by “other vehicle’s encroachment into large truck’s lane,” according to the FMCSA.
Critical pre-crash event statistics describe what the FMCSA has found to be the event that made a collision possible. According to 2019 figures, the following were the leading critical pre-crash events that led to fatal truck crashes that year:
- Another vehicle entered the large truck’s lane, leading to the crash: 36.3%
- Another vehicle that was already in the truck’s lane did something to cause the crash: 27.7%
- The large truck’s movement caused the accident: 19%
Incidents like unsafe lane changes, following too closely, making an illegal turn, or speeding can all contribute to trucking collisions. This behavior is often associated with inexperience, distraction, aggressive driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Are Truck Accidents Increasing?
Statistics show a steady increase in the number of fatal truck accidents in the United States from 2009 through 2019.
The FMCSA reported the following numbers of fatal commercial vehicle accidents:
- 3,193 fatal accidents in 2009
- 3,512 fatal accidents in 2010
- 3,595 fatal accidents in 2011
- 3,726 fatal accidents in 2012
- 3,821 fatal accidents in 2013
- 3,656 fatal accidents in 2014
- 3,864 fatal accidents in 2015
- 4,396 fatal accidents in 2016
- 4,587 fatal accidents in 2017
- 4,678 fatal accidents in 2018
- 4,696 fatal accidents in 2019
The rates for commercial vehicle accidents, per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, have also increased:
- 0.108 in 2009
- 0.118 in 2010
- 0.122 in 2011
- 0.125 in 2012
- 0.128 in 2013
- 0.121 in 2014
- 0.125 in 2015
- 0.138 in 2016
- 0.143 in 2017
- 0.144 in 2018
- 0.144 in 2019
In 2016, the NHTSA reclassified certain light pickup trucks as large trucks, which would include them in the commercial vehicle category. However, the trend of increased fatal commercial vehicle accidents had already started seven years prior – and it continued after the change.
What’s more, a total of 38,824 lives were lost in traffic accidents nationwide in 2020, the highest number since 2007.
What Can Be Done About It?
Truck accidents claim thousands of lives across the United States every single year. They injured 147,000 people in 2020 alone. These numbers are frightening to think about, particularly if you live in a state that has a high truck accident rate. By driving defensively, obeying traffic laws, and adjusting your speed for poor weather or road conditions, you can reduce your chances of being involved in any type of motor vehicle accident, including one involving an 18-wheeler.
Unfortunately, some accidents happen in spite of our best efforts to protect ourselves and our loved ones. When trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers, cut corners to try to make delivery deadlines, or do anything that encourages unsafe driving or improper maintenance, they put everyone at risk. At Arnold & Itkin, we help people who have been injured in a truck accident in any state. Whether it was in Texas or another state with the most truck accidents, or a state where commercial vehicle crashes rarely occur, we can offer the guidance and insight to help you reach toward a brighter future. Call our truck accident attorneys today at (888) 493-1629 to learn more.
You can also find more information about trucking accidents in our blogs: