This week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released their Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts for 2016. The annual report is compiled from state-collected data and analyzed by FMCSA.
There are many interesting facts in this year’s report, but one particular fact stands out to me.
More than 60 percent of all fatal truck crashes happened in rural areas.
Fatal crashes involving large trucks tend to occur in rural areas, and on Interstate highways.
You would think that cities like Seattle that have a lot of highway traffic would account for the majority fatal truck crashes, just because of the higher population.
More people + more trucks should = more crashes.
But looking back over FMCSA statistics, rural areas have always had far more crash deaths.
According to IIHS, this is true for all motor vehicle crashes, not just semi-trucks.
Although about 19% of people in the U.S. live in a rural area,
and 30% of the vehicle miles traveled occur in rural areas,
more than half of all crash deaths occur there.
Most happened on weekdays, more than two-thirds of deadly crashes occurring between 6 am and 6 pm.
Why are there so many fatal truck crashes in rural areas?
One theory is speed.
Police recorded at least one driver-related factor for 32% of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes.
“Speeding of Any Kind” was the most common driver-related factor.
“Distraction/Inattention” was the second most common for large truck drivers.
It sounds plausible but insufficient. Drivers speed in and around cities, too. So why are there so many more fatal truck crashes in the country?
Is it weather? More trucks on the road? Bad driving?
There was 1087 semi crashes in Washington State in 2017 – up from 668 in 2015.