Vehicle accidents involving commercial trucks can be devastating, causing severe damage, life-changing injuries, and even death. If you live in or drive through Colorado, understanding the trends in truck accident statistics may help you appreciate their potential risks, causes, and consequences.
If you or someone you love has been in an accident involving a semi or other type of large truck, it is important to reach out to an experienced Denver truck accident lawyer.
You deserve compensation for injuries you’ve incurred because of someone else’s negligent behavior. To get started, please contact us today to share your story.
Colorado Truck Accident Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) generally defines a large truck as any medium or heavy truck, excluding buses and motorhomes, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. These large trucks include both commercial and non-commercial vehicles. In comparison, the average mid-size car weighs around 3,300 pounds.
When it comes to a collision between a truck and a standard passenger vehicle, there is often a clear winner. The sheer weight of large trucks can mean heavier impact and more damage. Here are some of the most recent truck accident statistics.
- In 2019, there were 5,005 people killed in crashes involving large trucks across the United States. This number was almost exactly the same as 2018 (5,006);
- A total of 97 large trucks were involved in 11% of fatal car accidents in Colorado;
- The total number of fatalities in large truck accidents in Colorado was 103;
- Seventy-one percent of people killed in large-truck crashes in 2019 were occupants of other vehicles;
- Seventy-seven percent of the fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2019 occurred on weekdays (6 a.m. Monday to 5:59 p.m. Friday);
- Two percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2019 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher, much lower than drivers of other vehicle types (29% for motorcycles, 20% for passenger cars, and 19% for light trucks);
- The percentage of large trucks involved in fatal crashes was 10 percent or higher in 26 States;
- Drivers of large trucks in fatal crashes were found less likely than drivers of passenger cars to have previous license suspensions or revocations;
- Large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 had a higher percentage (22.9%) of previously recorded crashes than drivers of other vehicle types.
According to Truckinfo.net, 166,833 truck accidents occurred in the U.S. in 2022, and 4,678 of those accidents involved a fatality. Roughly 71% of injuries belonged to occupants in other vehicles, while 27% of fatalities were occupants of the large truck. Around 2% were other individuals, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Colorado
Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons, and the hilly terrain of the Rocky Mountains, mixed with snowy winters, does not make driving in Colorado any easier.
In some cases, the accident may not be the driver’s fault, while in other cases, there may be multiple parties at fault. A Denver truck accident attorney can help you determine who is liable for your injuries given the circumstances of the accident and how much your case is worth.
Driving long distances can be monotonous, especially on the long, empty, and straight stretch along I-70 between east Colorado and Kansas.
Distracted driving occurs anytime the driver’s attention is diverted from the road. Whether sending a text, checking social media, changing the radio station, or staring at something in the distance, distracted driving is a problem everywhere.
There are federal laws and regulations that strictly govern how many hours a truck driver can drive in one shift and include sleep and rest break requirements. These are important for the safety of the driver and others on the road. When companies fail to enforce these rules, driver fatigue can be a big problem.
Runaway truck ramps exist through much of the mountainous terrain, especially along I-70. Brake failure while traveling downhill can be catastrophic.
In one 2019 crash, a truck driver experienced a brake failure but failed to take the runaway ramp, which resulted in downhill speeds exceeding 100 mph. Four people were killed.
Snow and Ice
In early 2023, a semi-truck jackknifed in a snowstorm in east Colorado, which resulted in multiple other accidents. Trucks should be properly maintained for winter conditions, which may include tire maintenance and tire chains.
Speed is a big factor in a truck driver’s ability to properly react to a situation. Heavy trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles.
Drivers who are incentivized or instructed to get their cargo to its destination by a certain time, despite factors such as traffic, weather, and driver well-being, may be more motivated to exceed the speed limit.
A recent accident occurring in 2023 involved a truck that pulled over to the side of the road because the driver felt that they could not drive safely in the heavy rain occurring east of the Denver airport. A passenger truck driving on the same road hydroplaned and collided with the back of the truck, resulting in a fatality.
Improper Cargo Load
If cargo is improperly loaded in a trailer, it could shift suddenly and cause the trailer to tip and fall into another lane or fall into the road. In some areas, this could result in a collision with the median or the truck and trailer tipping over the median.
Driving Under the Influence
Drug and alcohol abuse is a problem in the trucking industry. DUIs are issued at a lower threshold for professional drivers. Meanwhile, some truck drivers choose to turn to amphetamines to keep them awake on long drives, which is one of the reasons that rest is mandatory.
Another danger of Colorado’s terrain is the risk of mudslides. Coupled with the instability of a tractor-trailer, this can pose a big risk for heavy trucks. Drivers and dispatchers are responsible for understanding the limits of the driving conditions.
Contact a Denver Truck Accident Lawyer Today
As the commercial truck accident statistics above demonstrate, truck accidents can be catastrophic and occur for different reasons.
If you have been in an accident with a truck, you are likely feeling overwhelmed as you try to determine the best steps toward recovery. At Tenge Law Firm, our motto is: you do what you need to do to take care of your health, and we will do the rest.
We’re here to help. Contact us to schedule your free truck accident case consultation.