California Truck Accident Statistics

Truck accidents in California aren’t just another statistic. Each number represents an individual – someone with hopes, dreams, and loved ones. A simple drive can turn tragic within moments due to the sheer size and impact of trucks, resulting in devastating consequences for those involved. It’s a startling reality, especially when the Golden State, with its vast network of highways and extensive cargo transportation, witnesses numerous truck accidents each year.

When faced with such a catastrophe, understanding these statistics, victims’ rights and the importance of seeking legal assistance can’t be stressed enough. Committed to justice, Nordean Law sheds light on California truck accident statistics. Our personal injury law firm in California emphasizes the need for professional legal intervention when tragedy strikes.

Truck Accidents and its Impact

Truck accidents leave an indelible mark on those directly involved and their families, communities, and even the state’s economy. The aftermath can be physically, emotionally, and financially crippling, making it imperative to understand the frequency, severity, and implications of these accidents.

Are Truck Accidents Common?

The number of truck accidents paints a grim picture. Given the constant movement of goods in and out of California, trucks are ever-present on the highways. This constant traffic unfortunately means higher chances of accidents.

  • Truck accidents in California contributed to about 7% of all vehicular accidents.
  • 9% of all vehicle accidents for fatal crashes were of large trucks in 2021.
  • In 2021, there were 5,788 deaths and 155,000 injuries in large-truck crashes in the United States.
  • The majority of large truck accident deaths are occupants of other vehicles (72%), followed by truck occupants (17%), and non-occupants, primarily pedestrians and bicyclists (11%).

Damages

Damages after a truck accident are generally more catastrophic than those from regular car accidents. The aftermath isn’t just a wrecked vehicle or a hospital bill; it’s a life turned upside-down. Beyond the immediate visible wreckage, there are extended damages, both tangible and intangible.

  • The average damage claim after a truck accident in California is around $150,000.
  • Property damage, particularly to smaller vehicles involved, can often be total loss.
  • Long-term effects lead to loss of income, medical expenses, and prolonged therapy or rehabilitation costs.

Injuries

The injuries sustained in truck accidents are usually severe. Given the weight and size differential, occupants of smaller vehicles bear the brunt of the impact. Common injuries sustained in truck accidents include:

  • California averages nearly 3,000 truck accidents resulting in injuries each year.
  • In 2017, there were 6,897 truck crashes causing injury or fatality in California.
  • Whiplash and neck injuries account for 40% of reported cases.
    About 30% of victims suffer from broken bones.
  • Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage are reported in roughly 15% of truck accidents.

Fatalities

While every accident is tragic, those involving trucks are particularly devastating due to the pronounced disparity in size and weight. The California truck accident statistics showcase the number of fatalities the state witnessed over the past few years.

  • California averages nearly 113 fatal truck crashes per year.
  • Each year between 200 – 300 drivers die from truck accidents in California.
  • In 2019, 4,119 people died in large truck accidents in the United States. About 16% of those involved were truck drivers, 67% were car occupants, and 15% percent were motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
  • In 2017, a total of 367 California residents were killed in truck crashes.
  • From 2013 to 2017, deaths due to truck collisions increased by 32%.
  • Los Angeles witnessed the highest number of deaths from truck accidents in 2017, with Riverside and San Bernardino close behind.
  • In 2017, truck accidents accounted for 3.6% of all vehicle crashes resulting in injury or death in California. This marked a 0.3% increase from 2013.
  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 341 trucks were involved in fatal crashes in California in 2017.

Statistics by Vehicle Type

Truck accidents aren’t confined to one type of truck. Different trucks have distinct purposes, sizes, and operational challenges. Each type, whether a semi-truck, fire truck or garbage truck, carries its own set of hazards and statistics.

Semi Truck Accidents

Semi-trucks, also known as 18-wheelers or big rigs, are frequent on California highways. Their sheer size and weight make their accidents particularly devastating. Below are listed semi truck accident statistics of California.

  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large trucks and buses accounted for 9% of all fatal vehicle crashes in 2019.
  • The United States witnesses 388,000 truck accidents every year. An estimated 28% (110,000+) result in injuries. Another 11% (40,000+) are fatal – semi-trucks account for more than half of these fatalities.
  • Semi trucks were involved in approximately 4,500 truck accidents in California in 2020. Nearly 60% occurred on highways, emphasizing the risks of high-speed collisions.

Fire Truck Accidents

Emergencies demand swift action, but in the process, fire trucks, given their size and urgency, sometimes become part of the problem. Below are listed California truck accident statistics, especially those of fire trucks.

  • In 2019, an estimated 15,350 fire trucks were involved in traffic accidents, resulting in 575 firefighter injuries and three fatalities.
  • In 2020, there were about 150 reported fire truck accidents in California.
  • In 2022, 50 emergency responders were killed while working at various roadway incidents, including law enforcement officers, fire/EMS, tow operators, road service technicians, and DOT safety patrol personnel.

Garbage Truck Accidents

With frequent stops and starts, garbage trucks pose unique challenges in urban and residential areas. Let’s look at some of California’s garbage truck accident statistics.

  • According to recent statistics, garbage trucks were involved in 8% to 9% of truck accidents, while trash cars were involved in 2%.
  • In 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recorded 107 garbage/refuse truck fatalities and more than 1,400 injuries in garbage truck crashes.
  • OSHA recorded 25 fatal garbage truck accidents in 2017, and 25% of people killed in these crashes were the vehicles’ operators.
  • In a year, more than 1,400 garbage truck injuries were in the U.S., plus 107 fatalities.
  • The fatal injury rate for waste collectors is 34 per 100,000, ahead of police officers, firefighters, and construction workers.

Understanding Safety Laws

Truck safety laws aim to mitigate the risks and ensure safer roads for all users. NHTSA, IIHS, and OTS set safety laws and regulations. They aim to reduce traffic accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): It is responsible for setting safety standards for vehicles and equipment, investigating safety defects and managing recalls. It’s the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Its key responsibilities include:

  • Developing and enforcing vehicle performance standards.
  • Overseeing vehicle recalls, ensuring faulty vehicles aren’t on the roads.
  • Prioritizing educating the public about road safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): It is a nonprofit organization that conducts research and provides information on vehicle safety, including crash tests and ratings. It is responsible for:

  • Researching to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes.
  • Advocates for stringent crashworthiness standards.
  • Assesses and ranks vehicles based on safety features.

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS): It promotes traffic safety in California through education, enforcement, and engineering. Its responsibilities include:

  • Administers traffic safety grants.
  • Promotes safety through campaigns like “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
  • Works collaboratively with local entities to enhance road safety.

Laws Regulating Truck Drivers in California

California, a hub of economic activity, has a higher density of truck movements, necessitating specialized rules. The state’s laws address unique challenges and provide an added layer of safety over federal regulations.

Hours of Service Restrictions

Ensuring that drivers aren’t fatigued is paramount. Tired drivers are a risk not just to themselves but to everyone on the road. The regulations include:

  • Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • They cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers must take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of continuous driving.
  • Drivers can’t drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

Speed Limits for Commercial Trucks

Speed limits aim to balance efficiency with safety, recognizing the catastrophic potential of truck accidents. Below are listed regulations surrounding speed limits in California:

  • On multiple-lane highways, trucks must not exceed 55 mph.
  • The truck speed can be reduced in certain designated areas or during specific conditions like a heavy fog.
  • Trucks pulling trailers are often subject to more stringent speed limits in certain zones.

Contact Truck Accident Lawyers at Nordean Law Now

After looking at the truck accident stats in California, it’s clear that these aren’t just numbers; each one represents a real incident. They represent real people, lives altered forever, and families grappling with loss. Swift and strategic legal action is paramount if you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident. Only through the expertise of seasoned truck accident lawyers in California can you navigate the complex legal labyrinth and ensure rightful compensation.

We, Nordean Law, pride ourselves on our compassionate yet assertive approach. Our team has extensive experience dealing with various truck accident cases. We understand the trauma, the intricate web of legalities, and the urgency of your situation. Our tailored approach has delivered justice to countless victims across California. If you seek both empathy and efficiency, contact our dedicated team today. Our commitment is to your well-being and justice.

FAQs

Texas had the most deaths from large truck crashes in 2021, with 806 deaths. California had the second-highest number of deaths from large truck crashes in 2021, with 437 deaths.

Spring is a high-risk period for truck accidents due to the influx of motorists enjoying the warmer weather. Additionally, weekday rush hours between 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and afternoon from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. significantly increase accident risk. Nearly 47% of all U.S. car collisions occur during these times.

Texas, California, and Florida consistently lead the nation with the most truck accidents. According to the FMCSA 2019, Texas had the highest number of non-occupants killed in large-truck traffic crashes at 87, while California and Florida had more than 60.

Large truck accidents can happen anywhere but are more common on highways and interstates. According to the National Safety Council, the states with the highest percentage of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2021 are Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, and Kansas. Los Angeles County in California saw the highest number of deaths from truck crashes in 2017, with Riverside and San Bernardino close behind.

Picture of Author Bio
Author Bio

Samuel ‘Sam’ Nordean is a founding partner of Nordean Law, APC. He is passionate about standing up for people who struggle with accidental injuries and mistreatment from insurance companies. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Biochemistry from Portland State University. He then earned his Juris Doctor degree from Chapman University School of Law. Sam started Nordean Law to commit to helping people who cannot fight for themselves. His strengths are in representing victims in car accidents, fatal accidents, negligence cases and liability accidents.

Picture of Author Bio
Author Bio

Samuel ‘Sam’ Nordean is a founding partner of Nordean Law, APC. He is passionate about standing up for people who struggle with accidental injuries and mistreatment from insurance companies. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Biochemistry from Portland State University. He then earned his Juris Doctor degree from Chapman University School of Law. Sam started Nordean Law to commit to helping people who cannot fight for themselves. His strengths are in representing victims in car accidents, fatal accidents, negligence cases and liability accidents.

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