In 2020, of the 35,766 fatal crashes on the nation’s highways and byways, 4,588 (or 12.8%) involved at least one large truck or bus, according to the 2022 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The total number of fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses is down just slightly from the 4,722 that occurred in 2019. Moreover, large trucks versus buses continue to be involved in the lion’s share of these type of crashes, with 4,444 of the 4,588 fatalities in 2020 involving a large truck and the remaining 155 involving a bus.
FMCSA also explores the type of vehicles in which occupants died during collisions with trucks. In 2020, 1,691 fatalities involving a large truck were people traveling in passenger cars and 1,483 of those killed were riding in a light truck. The remaining fatalities were occupants or drivers of a large truck (831), motorcycle (298), or bus (298). Finally, in the case of six deaths the type of vehicle is unknown.
Finally, in 2020, some 622 non-motorists, including pedestrians and pedalcyclists, lost their lives in a crash involving a large truck. Sadly, this figure is steadily trending upward with 493 non-motorist fatalities in 2017, 553 in 2018, and 570 in 2019.
The FMCSA data is derived from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), an annual census of fatal crashes, maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Also noteworthy, FARS defines a large truck as a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds — so not just heavy-duty trucks and big rigs, but also more compact trucks that are utilized by many fleets.
Moreover, fatal crashes that involve trucks and buses are just the tip of the iceberg. In 2020, there were also an estimated 5,215,000 non-fatal crashes across the U.S. Some 445,000 (8.4%) of those involved at least one large truck or bus as compared with 580,000 in 2019.
There were also approximately 108,000 injuries incurred by people due to accidents involving large trucks and buses in 2020. Again, the far greater portion of these injuries —101,000 — is attributed to collisions involving a truck versus a bus (7,000).
The primary mission of FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. In carrying out its safety mandate, FMCSA develops and enforces data-driven regulations that balance motor carrier safety with efficiency.