How dangerous are semi trucks and over height trucks?

There are over 500,000 truck accidents in the United States every year. A large number of semi truck accidents result in fatalities, primarily because of the difference in size between semi trucks and standard motor vehicles.  

Traffic safety experts estimate that approximately 5,000 people are tragically killed in trucking accidents annually. Ninety-eight percent of the time, the passengers or driver in the other vehicle is killed as opposed to driver or passengers in the truck.  

According to FARS and MCMIS's April 25,2014 data snapshot, the number of trucks involved in Washington State motor vehicle crashes has been as follows:  

  • 2008 - 1,428
  • 2009 - 1,159
  • 2010 - 1,370
  • 2011 - 1,614

Causes of Semi Truck & Tractor Trailer Truck Accidents

There are many causes for semi truck accidents but some of the most common causes are:

  • Driver Fatigue
  • Substance Abuse
  • Speeding
  • Failure to adhere to the rules of the road
  • Failure to properly maintain trucks
  • Improperly loaded trucks or cargo shifting / Illegal, over-sized loads
  • Under-inflated tires
  • Over-height trucks attempting to pass under lo overpasses or bridges
  • Pilot/Escort Vehicle Operator (P/EVO) error
  • Trucks following other traffic too closely

Over-Height or Wide Load Trucking Accident Statistics

A 2004 research study reported that 62% of states that participated in the study indicated that they consider over-height collisions to be a significant problem. Washington State reported that overheight collisions were not a problem.

In a survey conducted for a similar 2012 study Washington State officials responded that bridge strikes were a serious problem reporting a total of 84 reported bridge strikes during 2005 to 2008.

Research estimates that nearly one-third of the nation’s 600,000 highway bridges are currently in need of repair or replacements, making applications for innovative bridge concepts and construction methods vital to both traffic safety and cost-effective maintenance. Because of this pressure issue, researchers are addressing a growing need for over-height impact protection and detection systems.

  • Source: Fu, C. C. and G. L. Chang, “Study of Overheight Vehicle collisions with Highway Bridges,”Transportation Research Record,1865, 80-88, 2004.
  • Source: A.K. Agrawal, X. Xu, and Z. Chen, Bridge-Vehicle Impact Assessment.
  • Source: Over-height Vehicle Collision Protection andDetection System for Cold Region Highway Bridges, University of Alaska Transportation Center.