Big Rig Accidents in Arkansas
Big rigs, or semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, or tractor-trailers, weigh tens of thousands of pounds and are prone to accidents such as jackknifing in poor road conditions. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that a large number of two-vehicle fatal crash incidents involve a head-on collision with a truck.
National data suggests that in 2014, two percent of large truck drivers in a fatal crash had blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit. This is compared to over 20 percent for passenger cars and light trucks. Arkansas traffic statistical records don’t indicate the exact number of semi-truck accidents, but they do provide insights into fatalities across the state.
The NHTSA tracks various metrics in relation to motor vehicle accidents. Based on its Traffic Safety Performance Measures, the number of fatalities due to large truck accidents fluctuated over a five-year period from 2011 to 2015, although there was somewhat of a downward trend.
|Year||Truck Crash Fatalities|
Issued in May 2016, the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts, however, reported 75 fatal crashes involving large trucks that year, compared to a total of 668 for all vehicles. The number of fatalities totaled 78 that year, with seven involving a single vehicle and 2 deaths in multiple vehicle incidents. A reported 62 occupants of other vehicles were killed in large truck related accidents, and 7 were non-occupants.
The counties with the largest amount of truck fatalities include Jefferson, Benton, Columbia, Crittenden, Miller, and Pulaski Counties. Maps analyzing state traffic data and those from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System show a concentration of accidents around Little Rock over the 2013 to 2015 period, and also along Interstates 40 and 30.
Other Big Rig Accident Trends
Crashes involving these types of large trucks present major hazards on the roads. Nationally, nearly three-quarters of fatalities are occupants of other vehicles, while about 17 percent were occupants of the trucks involved in accidents. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-occupants were also killed in truck accidents. The size and weight of these trucks puts people and other vehicle occupants at risk. A big rig can weigh 80,000 pounds and range in size depending on how many trailers they are towing.
Semi-trucks also travel long distances. A driver can log 100,000 miles or more in a year. Various factors contribute to accidents; while driver fatigue has been an issue over the years, the 18 wheels of a truck means there are many points for failure on roadways, including the state and interstate highways of Arkansas. The statistics show that big rig accidents occur in both urban and rural areas.