Fatal Truck Crashes Surge Nationwide, Especially in Texas

Deadly crashes involving 18-wheelers and other heavy trucks have increased significantly throughout Texas and across the United States.

According to Road Safe America, 35,882 Americans were killed in trucking-related accidents from 2009 through 2017. Although total miles traveled by big rigs actually decreased slightly during that period, truck crash deaths rose by 41% nationwide.

The number of children killed in heavy truck accidents grew by 20%, while truck occupant deaths increased by 69%.

Texas Top State for Truck Accident Deaths in 2017

Although nearly every state saw fatal truck accidents spike, Texas ranked among those with the largest percentage increases. Lagging behind Washington, Idaho, and Colorado, the Lone Star State surpassed Nevada to take fourth place on the list.

Texas did record more truck accident deaths than any other state in 2017. California, Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania rounded out the top five.

“The sad fact is that many of these deaths could have been avoided if use of existing speed limiting and automatic emergency braking technologies had been the law,” said Steve Owings, co-founder of Road Safe America.

U.S. Doesn’t Require Speed-Governing Technology for Heavy Trucks

Compared to passenger vehicles, 18-wheelers and other big rigs require significantly more time to stop in an emergency. Yet Texas and nearly every other state in the top five have truck speed limits of 70 mph or more.

Automatic emergency braking systems alert truck drivers to slow- or non-moving objects, and apply the brakes if a driver fails to do so.

Speed limiters prevent a truck from traveling above a predetermined speed. In doing so, they ensure drivers have more time to avoid or reduce the severity of a crash.

Unfortunately, the United States does not require heavy commercial trucks to use either of these systems.

“In fact, required use of speed limiters is so prevalent around the world that they have been built into America’s big-rig trucks since the 1990s,” Owings said. “So, all that is needed is a requirement to turn them on and set them at a reasonable top speed such as 65 mph.”

Speed-Governing Technology Does Reduce Truck Accident Deaths

Speed-governing technology is a proven means of preventing accidents and saving lives.

In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s own road-based study found that trucks not using their speed limiters had a significantly greater highway-speed crash rate compared to trucks that did use limiters.

Speed-related accidents actually fell by 73% after Ontario, Canada required commercial trucks to use their speed limiters, while truck accident deaths fell by 64%.

Three major trucking companies also saw significant reductions in rear-end collisions after equipping their fleets with crash avoidance systems.

Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that automatic braking systems would prevent over 2,500 crashes annually. Every year implantation is delayed, 166 people will die needlessly, while another 8,000 will suffer serious injuries.

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