Were you injured as a result from using Truck & Bus Accidents?
Get an evaluation on your unique situation, at no cost.
There are thousands of accidents involving motor vehicles every single day in America. Unfortunately, some of those accidents involve massive vehicles like trucks or busses, and the results of those accidents can be devastating. Each year, around 50,000 trucks and over 7,000 busses are involved in injury accidents¹. Here’s what you need to know about truck and bus accidents to help keep you and your family safe from large vehicle collisions.
This page's Information has been
verified by knowledgeable Info Verified
experts in the related field
Last modified on: May 9th, 2020
According to the latest Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data, there are almost 5,000 fatal accidents involving large trucks in the United States annually — a 10% increase over previous years¹. In addition, there were over 115,000 injury-causing accidents involving large trucks in 2017, which is significantly higher than the 2015 and 2016 data. In other words, large trucking accidents happen. And they happen frequently.
With over 300 injury-causing truck or bus accidents occurring daily, being aware of the dangers of large vehicles on-the-road is crucial. Chances are, if you’re involved in an accident with a large vehicle like a semi-truck of a bus, you’re going to be the one injured. The average car weighs less than 3,000 pounds. The average semi-truck weighs 35,000 pounds without a load of merchandise. In injury crashes that involve massive trucks, 84% of injuries happen to cars, pedestrians, and cyclists — not the truck drivers¹.
Despite popular belief, the majority of truck accidents aren’t due to vehicle malfunctions. A mere 5% of trucking accidents are attributed to brake, engine, transmission, or other vehicle problems². Unfortunately, the largest causes of trucking accidents are drivers. Over 33% of the 116,000 annual injury-causing trucking accidents are due to driver error². These errors include:
For truck drivers, fatigue is all-to-common an issue. The FMCSA considers driver fatigue to be a leading cause of truck driver accidents in the United States. Over the years, the FMCSA has attempted to curb the number of fatigued drivers by introducing Hours of Service — which regulates how many hours a truck driver can be on the road.
While some truckers still found ways to cheat the system, the latest electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has made cheating virtually impossible. But does that really get to the core of the issue? Truck drivers aren’t required to participate in fatigue management education. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 33% of Americans are sleep-deprived³. So, while truckers may be able to drive fewer hours, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t driving fatigued.
Unfortunately, fatigue mistakes multiply when drivers are in control of a massive, 35,000-pound rig. One study found that the average truck driver is only in bed for around 5.2 hours (less than 5 of which is sleep)⁴. Given that doctors recommend that the average adult over the age of 18 gets 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day, many truck drivers simply aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep. Lack of sleep reduces brain functions, including decision making, problem-solving, and reasoning capabilities along with reaction times⁵.
According to the FMCSA, these fatigued drivers injure over 20,000 people each year.
Obviously, distracted driving isn’t just a trucking problem. In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) data showed that over 2,800 people are killed each year due to accidents involving distracted driving. In fact, according to NHTSA, distracted driving incidents are severely under-reported, and they estimate that as many as 27% of all accidents are caused by cell phone usage on the road⁶.
But when it comes to commercial truck drivers, distracted driving has grave consequences. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carry Administration conducted a study that showed a massive 71% of commercial trucking accidents were caused by distracted driving⁷. Any time a truck driver takes their eyes off of the road to check their phone, change their radio, or eat a snack, they can lose control and cause an accident.
NHTSA data shows that 21% of truckers involved in a fatal crash had a prior history of speeding tickets⁸. Around 25% of all accidents are caused by speeding drivers. Of course, speeding can tie into distraction, intoxication, and fatigue, but oftentimes, speeding is the key determiner of a car accident. Unlike traditional commercial cars, large semi-trucks can’t stop on a dime. The average stopping distance (in absolutely perfect conditions) of a semi-truck going 65 miles-per-hour is more than the entire distance of a football field⁹.
When large trucks speed, their vehicles simply can’t stop fast enough to react to road incidents. Unfortunately, 16% of accidents involving trucks rear-ending cars are fatal¹⁰. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds. When these massive, heavy vehicles slam into smaller passenger vehicles, injuries and death are common.
In most accidents involving impaired drivers, alcohol is to blame. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28% of traffic-related fatalities involve alcohol¹¹. But when it comes to truck drivers, alcohol isn’t the impairment-of-choice. More than half of truck drivers who tested positive for narcotics after accidents had amphetamines in their system. In fact, random sampling truck driving populations show that around half a percent of them test positive for amphetamines, which some drivers use to help them meet their demanding schedules and fight off trucker fatigue¹².
Unfortunately, legal and illegal drugs play a role in a large percentage (16%) of all accidents¹¹. Truckers long hours, demanding jobs, and on-the-road lifestyle sometimes leads to substance abuse. And, like most trucking incidents, impairment is magnified when drivers are behind a large, heavy semi-truck.
Busses are an integral part of society’s transportation system. They provide critical public transportation to workers across the globe, and they’re responsible for getting over 26 million children to school each day in the United States. Unfortunately, busses aren’t immune to crashes¹³. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute estimates that somewhere around 63,000 busses are involved in crashes each year — causing hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries¹⁴.
Unlike many trucking accidents, the majority of bus accidents aren’t due to intoxication, speeding, or reckless driving (at least not on the bus drivers part). Instead, busses are often involved in accidents due to driver error or bus malfunctions. These errors include:
Busses are essentially giant metal tubes on wheels. And, like other massive commercial vehicles, they have huge blind spots. This FMCSA chart shows how large these blind spots are — often taking up multiple lanes. Sometimes, when cars are in a busses blind spot, those cars can quickly get hit on the merge. This can lead to injury or even death for the passenger car or the bus occupants.
Not only do busses have huge blind spots, but they also have extremely wide turns. Busses have a turning radius of 55 feet — which is nearly double the turning radius of the average car. Often times, busses need to use both lanes to turn due to their length and width. If a bus is attempting a turn from the middle lane, and a smaller car parks next to them, they may not notice the car during their turn — resulting in a crash.
It takes a bus around 40% longer than cars to come to a full stop. When busses are moving down the highway or city street at a semi-rapid speed, a quick brake from a driver in front of them can lead to disastrous consequences. While most bus drivers are trained to stay a safe distance away from cars during acceleration, some bus drivers ignore this rule. This can result in serious accidents that endanger the bus, it’s passengers, and the passenger vehicle it collides with.
The FMSCA has a handy guide of tips for passenger vehicle drivers:
If you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck or bus, the first thing you should do is stay put. Either leave your vehicle exactly where it is — or move it to the side if it’s in a dangerous location. Immediately check yourself for injuries, make sure that your passengers, the other driver, and their passengers are fine. If anyone is hurt, immediately take them (or yourself) to the hospital — or call for an ambulance.
Next, you should call the police and report the accident. Not only will having the accident on file help your insurance company, but the police can help direct traffic and ensure that everyone is safe after the collision.
If the police don’t get information for you, make sure that you collect information from the truck or bus driver, including:
You should also attempt to take pictures of the scene of the accident. You want pictures of your car, the truck/bus, and the wreckage. This will help you and your insurance company. If a police officer showed up, they may ask you about the collision. Tell them to the best of your knowledge, and leave out any parts that you aren’t perfectly sure happened.
Also, it’s always a good idea to go to the hospital for a checkup after the accident. Even if you don’t think that you’ve been injured, there may be injuries that you can’t feel due to high adrenaline levels.
Finally, you should seek immediate legal help. Your lawyer will help you navigate the aftermath of the accident and provide advice in your best interest. Make sure to choose a lawyer who has experience dealing with these kinds of large truck and bus accidents.