Big Rig Accidents in Indiana

Big Rig Accidents in Indiana

The Traffic Safety Division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is tasked with instituting programs to reduce fatalities and injuries on the state’s roadways. 2015 and 2016 saw a sharp increase in the total number of road deaths caused by all crashes in Indiana. From a low of 747 in 2014, the number of fatalities on the state’s roads increased to 823 in 2015 and again to 828 in 2016.

Big rigs pose a significant danger to other motorists. Their weight, combined with speed and hazardous cargo, presents a formula for huge potential loss in the form of fatalities, injuries and property damages.

Crash Statistics

The ICJI publishes a report of traffic statistics each year which includes the following crashes involving large trucks:

YearTotal CollisionsFatal CollisionsNonfatal Injury Collisions
201013 333116 1 811
2011 13 9471431 932
201213 1051261 741
201313 3151231 765
201416 3301572 36

The number of fatal collisions involving heavy trucks decreased from a high in 2011 to 123 in 2013, with a corresponding drop in injuries. Indiana followed a trend throughout the United Stated in 2014 of an increasing number of road deaths as the economy improved and travel on the state’s roads picked up. That year showed a marked increase in total collisions, fatalities, and injuries from big rig accidents.

The total of fatalities on roads and highways in Indiana increased in 2015. The first six months of 2016 saw another increase in deaths. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimated an increase of 33 percent in traffic fatalities in Indiana since the upward trend began in 2014.

According to data published by the FHA, Indiana has the highest flow or truck traffic of any state in the nation. In 2012, there were more than 25 trucks hauling both domestic and international cargo along the major state highways per day. This traffic flow is expected to increase significantly through 2045.

Crash Contributing Factors

A national study was conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) into the causes of large truck crashes. They found the following contributing factors:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Problems with the trucks tires or brakes
  • Driving too fast in unsafe road or weather conditions
  • Driver inattention and inadequate surveillance
  • Distraction
  • Following too closely behind another vehicle
  • Illegal maneuvering
  • Shifting cargo

A substantial number of accidents were caused by brake failure, estimated to be 29 percent of truck crashes. Driver fatigue was also a large contributing factor, at 13 percent.

Trucks carrying hazardous materials can compound the risk of road fatalities. The FMCSA reported that big rigs were involved in 3,709 crashes on the nation’s roads and highways from 2012 to 2016. In 487 of these accidents, hazardous cargo was released. Chief among them was flammable liquids in 267 of the cases. Other dangerous materials transported by large trucks include gases, flammable solids, explosives, corrosive chemicals and poisonous substances.

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