California Truck Accident Facts and Statistics

California Truck Accident Facts and Statistics

From Nicky Bella

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The occurrence of accidents is not a scarce one, but because of their size and weight, accidents involving trucks, usually cause more damage than other vehicles with smaller weights and sizes. The reason is not far-fetched as trucks averagely weigh 20 – 30 times that of cars. However, cars are the more vulnerable victims whenever a crash happens with a truck.

Accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists are therefore way more dangerous. While no accident is preferable, accidents involving trucks are more dangerous as they oftentimes lead to alarming damages or even death. 

In analysing the information from the data made available by the California Highway Patrol, it shows that 367 residents of the state, died in truck accidents in 2017. However, statistics indicate that although motor vehicle crashes have fallen over the last several decades, truck accidents have actually increased. Here are some of the amazing facts you should know;

  • In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that there were 282 truck accident fatalities.
  • In 2012, the fatalities dropped to 261
  • From 2013 – 2017 however, there was a 32% increase in the number of fatalities in truck accidents.
  • In the same time frame (2013 – 2017), injuries related to truck accidents increased by almost 30%
  • Every year, truck accidents take between 200 to 360 lives in California
  • About 3,000 injuries happen as a result of truck accidents
  • Between 2011 and 2015, Orange County recorded 39 truck fatalities.
  • Between the same time frame, Los Angeles Country recorded 430 fatalities.
  • San Diego also recorded 70 fatal accidents within these five years.
  • Los Angeles County is known to be where most large truck accidents happen in California.
  • In 2017, Los Angeles had the highest number of fatalities from truck accidents.
  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), California is in the top 10 states in the country known for truck accidents.
  • Most crashes in California happen on I-5, I-10, and I-715.

In determining who is responsible for truck accidents, statistics further show that:

  • From a general view, car drivers are responsible for the accidents more than 50% of the time while truck drivers were found to be at fault 44% of the time.
  • Upon proper evaluation, truck drivers were discovered to be the underlying cause of truck accidents 55% of the time.


Jack-knife accidents occur, when the cab of a truck folds into an inappropriate angle to the truck, making it look like a jack-knife. This kind of accident is often caused by the failure of the driver to properly consider the condition of the road and the weather. It also happens when a truck driver takes sharp turns at a fast pace. All of these, alongside speeding, are major reasons jack-knife accidents can be common.

Due to the length and time it takes to come to a full stop, large trucks sometimes end up colliding into the rear end of other vehicles in front of them. Unlike smaller vehicles, trucks take a longer time, and more skill to come to a stop. If this is not properly done, there are chances that they will end up colliding with other vehicles.

Truck underride occurs when a smaller vehicle ends up under the belly of a truck. This could be as a result of the carelessness of the truck driver or the driver of the other vehicle. Either way, truck underride accidents account for about half of the fatalities of truck-car accidents. This means that caution should be paid to avoid such. Other road users must give trucks more than enough room to operate, to prevent such accidents from happening.

Other common causes of truck accidents are:

  • Loose Cargo: When trucks carrying load/cargo are not properly fitted to ensure the cargo cannot come loose, there is a likelihood of an accident happening. This is because the cargo can come loose anytime and fall off. Depending on the content of the cargo, the implication of cargo falling off varies.
  • Lack of Attention: distracted drivers tend to make rash decisions, which can lead to accidents in the end.
  • Fatigue: Tired drivers make a lot of effort to stay awake and/or keep their concentration. Their bodies can give in to fatigue, thereby leaving room for accidents to happen since they are not fully operational.
  • Faulty motor parts: Failure of a driver to check that all parts of their truck are in good condition, many times lead to truck failure mid-trip, thereby putting the truck and other road users at risk of an accident.
  • Environmental Factors: This is usually beyond the control of the truck driver as the factor could be bad weather or bad roads. The driver hence has to pay more attention to avoid the occurrence of an accident.
  • Inexperienced Drivers: Inexperienced drivers, especially when driving unsupervised are very dangerous, as things could easily go out of hand for them.


Truck accidents can be reduced drastically. All it takes is obeying traffic rules, avoiding overspeed, and paying attention to other vehicles or pedestrians. Save your lives and of others. Human lives are irreplaceable.

Stay safe at driving.

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