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Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2012

This online edition of Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts provides Excel files containing data for each of the report's data tables and graphs. A printable version of the complete report is also available.

Contents

Note: Data Revisions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) implemented an enhanced methodology for estimating registered vehicles and vehicle miles traveled by vehicle type beginning with data from 2007. As a result, involvement rates may differ, and in some cases significantly, from earlier years.

Introduction

This annual edition of Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts contains descriptive statistics about fatal, injury, and property-damage-only crashes involving large trucks and buses in 2012. Selected crash statistics on passenger vehicles are also presented for comparison purposes.

The information in this report was compiled by the Analysis Division of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The major sources for the data are described below:

  • Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). FARS, maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is a census of fatal crashes involving motor vehicles traveling on public trafficways. FARS is recognized as the most reliable national crash database, but it contains information only on fatal crashes. A large truck is defined in FARS as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds. A bus is defined in FARS as any motor vehicle designed primarily to transport nine or more persons, including the driver. For more information on FARS, go to www.nhtsa.gov/FARS.
  • General Estimates System (GES). GES, also maintained by NHTSA, is a probability-based nationally representative sample of police-reported fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes. The data from GES yield national estimates, calculated using a weighting procedure, but cannot give State-level estimates. Because GES is a sample of motor vehicle crashes, the results generated are estimates rounded to the nearest one thousand. The GES definitions of a large truck and a bus are the same as the FARS definitions. For more information on GES, go to www.nhtsa.gov/NASS.
  • Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) Crash File. The MCMIS Crash File, maintained by FMCSA, contains data on trucks and buses in crashes that meet the SAFETYNET recommended threshold. A SAFETYNET reportable crash must involve a truck, used for commercial purposes, with a GVWR or gross combination weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds; a commercial bus designed to transport nine or more persons, including the driver; or any vehicle carrying hazardous material that requires placarding, regardless of the vehicle’s weight. The crash must result in at least one fatality, at least one injury involving immediate medical attention away from the crash scene, or at least one vehicle disabled as a result of the crash and transported away from the crash scene. The crashes are reported by the States to FMCSA through the SAFETYNET computer software. The MCMIS Crash File is intended to be a census of trucks and buses involved in fatal, injury, and towaway crashes; however, some States do not report all FMCSA-eligible crashes, and some report more than those that are eligible. FMCSA continues to work with the States to improve data quality and reporting of eligible large truck and bus crashes to the MCMIS crash file.

FARS, GES, and MCMIS describe the events and details of motor vehicle crashes, but they do not include data on crash causation or fault.

  • Highway Statistics. Highway Statistics is an annual publication of the Office of Highway Policy Information of FHWA. State agencies report the data, ranging from driver licensing to highway finance, and FHWA aggregates them to get national totals. This report takes vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and vehicle registrations from Table VM-1 of Highway Statistics, “Annual Vehicle Distance Traveled in Miles and Related Data.” Readers are warned to be careful of crash rate data based on the VMT numbers from FHWA. For the years 2007 through 2012 FHWA implemented an enhanced methodology for estimating registered vehicles and VMT by vehicle type. The new methodology did not change the total VMT, but it did make a large difference in the number of miles traveled attributed to large trucks and buses. As a result it would be misleading to cite large truck and bus data trends that encompassed both the years before 2007 and the years from 2007 through 2012. For more information on VMT data, go to www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2012.

Organization of the Report

The report is organized into four chapters: Trends, Crashes, Vehicles, and People. The Trends chapter shows data for 2012 in the context of available historical data for past years. In the other chapters, the 2012 data are shown in different ways, according to what is being counted. The Crashes chapter counts numbers of crashes; the Vehicles chapter counts vehicles in crashes; and the People chapter counts persons of all types involved in crashes. Four different types of counts are shown:

  • Crashes: Numbers of crashes involving various vehicle types.
  • Vehicles in Crashes: Numbers of vehicles involved in crashes. These counts may be larger than the number of crashes (fatal, injury, or property damage only), because more than one vehicle may be involved in a single crash.
  • People in Crashes: Numbers of people killed or injured in crashes. These counts generally are larger than the number of crashes (fatal or injury), because more than one person may be killed or injured in a single crash. People killed or injured may be occupants of a truck, occupants of another vehicle, or nonmotorists (pedestrians or pedalcyclists).
  • Drivers in Crashes: Numbers of vehicle drivers involved in crashes. These counts generally are equal to the numbers of vehicles involved in crashes.

Trends

The tables in this chapter present crash statistics for large trucks and buses over time. Fatal crash statistics generally are available from 1975, the first year of FARS data, through 2012. In some cases, such as for roadway function class or alcohol involvement, data are available only from 1981 or 1982 through 2012. Nonfatal crash statistics are available from 1992 through 2012. The statistics shown in this chapter represent crashes, vehicles, drivers, fatalities, and injuries in crashes. Below is a summary of some of the trend information in this section:

  • In 2012, 3,802 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 5-percent increase from 2011. Large truck and bus fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by all motor vehicles increased by 3 percent, from 0.137 in 2011 to 0.141 in 2012.
  • For 2.1 percent of large truck drivers in fatal crashes in 2012, the blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 grams per deciliter or more, compared with 22.8 percent of passenger vehicle drivers. Alcohol was detected in the blood of 3.5 percent of large truck drivers in fatal crashes in 2012, compared with 26.3 percent of passenger vehicle drivers.
  • Over the past 10 years (2002 through 2012):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decreased from 4,587 to 3,802, a drop of 17 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased from 94,000 to 77,000, a drop of 18 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased from 336,000 to 253,000, a drop of 25 percent.
    • The number of buses involved in fatal crashes decreased from 274 to 251, a decrease of 8 percent.
    • On average, intercity buses accounted for 13 percent, and school buses and transit buses accounted for 41 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of all buses involved in fatal crashes.
  • Over the past year (from 2011 to 2012):
    • The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 5 percent, from 3,633 to 3,802, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in fatal crashes (vehicles involved in fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled by large trucks) increased by 4 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 22 percent, from 63,000 to 77,000, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in injury crashes increased by 22 percent.
    • The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes increased by 14 percent, from 221,000 to 253,000, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in property damage only crashes also increased by 14 percent.
    • The number of buses involved in fatal crashes increased from 245 to 251, an increase of 2 percent, but the vehicle involvement rate for buses in fatal crashes decreased by 4 percent.
    • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by large trucks increased by 0.3 percent, and bus VMT increased by 6.9 percent.

Detailed List of Tables and Figures from Chapter 1 (Trends):

Crashes

This chapter contains information on the circumstances of large truck crashes. Below is a summary of some of the information in this section:

  • Of the approximately 317,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2012, 3,464 (1 percent) resulted in at least one fatality, and 73,000 (23 percent) resulted in at least one nonfatal injury.
  • Single-vehicle crashes made up 21 percent of all fatal crashes, 15 percent of all injury crashes, and 22 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks in 2012. The majority (63 percent) of fatal large truck crashes involved two vehicles.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads, and 24 percent occurred on rural and urban Interstate highways.
  • Thirty-six percent of all fatal crashes, 23 percent of all injury crashes, and 18 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 pm to 6:00 am).
  • The vast majority of fatal crashes (83 percent) and nonfatal crashes (89 percent) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).
  • Collision with a vehicle in transport was the first harmful event (the first event during a crash that caused injury or property damage) in 74 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks, 83 percent of injury crashes involving large trucks, and 77 percent of property damage only crashes involving large trucks.
  • Rollover was the first harmful event in 5 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks and 3 percent of all nonfatal crashes involving large trucks.
  • In 2012, 24 percent of work zone fatal crashes and 13 percent of work zone injury crashes involved at least one large truck.
  • There were 11 fatal large truck crashes per million people in the United States in 2012.

Detailed List of Tables from Chapter 2 (Crashes):

Vehicles

This chapter presents information on large trucks involved in fatal, injury, and property-damage-only crashes. Some of the data in this chapter come from the MCMIS Crash File, which contains data on trucks and buses in crashes that meet the SAFETYNET crash severity thresholds. MCMIS data are used for the tables on crashes by vehicle configuration (Vehicles Table 1), cargo body type (Vehicles Table 2), gross vehicle weight rating (Vehicles Table 3), hazardous materials (HM) cargo (Vehicles Table 4), and HM released (Vehicles Table 5). SAFETYNET nonfatal crashes tend to be more serious than GES nonfatal crashes, because the SAFETYNET threshold requires at least one injury involving immediate medical attention away from the crash scene, or at least one vehicle disabled as a result of the crash and transported away from the crash scene. Below is a summary of some of the vehicle information in this section:

  • In 2012, 3,802 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, 77,000 were involved in injury crashes, and 253,000 were involved in property-damage-only crashes.
  • HM placards were present on 4 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 2 percent of those in nonfatal crashes. HM was released from the cargo compartments of 15 percent of the placarded trucks. Flammable liquids (gasoline, fuel oil, etc.) accounted for 48 percent of the HM releases from cargo compartments in fatal crashes and 56 percent of the HM releases in nonfatal crashes.
  • “Collision with vehicle in transport” was recorded as the most harmful event for 73 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
  • Singles (truck tractors pulling a single semi-trailer) accounted for 61 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2012; doubles (tractors pulling two trailers) made up 3 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes; and triples (tractors pulling three trailers) accounted for less than 0.1 percent of all large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
  • Vehicle-related crash factors were coded for 4 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of the passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Tires was the vehicle-related factor most often coded for both vehicle types.
  • On average, there were 0.18 large truck occupant fatalities per large truck in fatal crashes. The majority of large trucks involved (83 percent) did not have any occupant fatalities, and 17 percent had only one occupant fatality.

Detailed List of Tables from Chapter 3 (Vehicles):

People

This chapter contains information on drivers of large trucks in fatal, injury, and property damage only crashes and on people killed or injured in large truck crashes. Some statistics are also listed for passenger vehicle drivers in order to make comparisons. It is important to note that the number of large truck drivers in crashes is not exactly equal to the number of large trucks in crashes, because no driver information is provided for some crashes. Below is a summary of some of the information in this section:

  • Of the 3,753 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 206 (5 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 196 (5 percent) were 66 years of age or older. In comparison, 9 (4 percent) of the 244 drivers of buses in fatal crashes were 25 years of age or younger, and 22 (9 percent) were 66 years of age or older.
  • About 3 percent of all the drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes were female, as compared with 30 percent of all drivers of buses involved in fatal crashes.Of the 3,753 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 349 (9 percent) were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash; of those, 26 percent were completely or partially ejected from the vehicle.
  • One or more driver-related factors were recorded for 55 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in single-vehicle fatal crashes and for 27 percent of the drivers of large trucks involved in multiple-vehicle fatal crashes. In comparison, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 72 percent of the drivers of passenger vehicles (cars, vans, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles) involved in single-vehicle crashes and 51 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes. Speeding was the most often coded driver-related factor for both vehicle types; distraction/inattention was the second most common for large truck drivers, and impairment (fatigue, alcohol, illness, etc.) was the second most common for passenger vehicle drivers.
  • There were 697 large truck occupant fatalities in 2012, of which 85 percent were drivers of large trucks and 15 percent were passengers in large trucks.

Detailed List of Tables from Chapter 4 (People):

Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014