Big Rig Accidents in Kansas

Big Rig Accidents in Kansas

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 432 traffic deaths were recorded in 2016 on the state’s roads and highways. An improving economy since 2014 has seen a rise in traffic volumes, which includes the number of big rigs hauling cargo.

Large trucks are known as big rigs, semis, eighteen wheelers and tractor-trailers in America. Depending on how many trailers they tow, they can reach large proportions and weigh well over 26,000 pounds. This weight, coupled with other risk factors, makes them a considerable danger to other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Accident Statistics

The Kansas Department of Transportation reports statistics on accidents involving large and heavy trucks for an 11 year period, from 2005 to 2015:

YearTotal CrashesFatal CrashesFatalitiesInjuries
20053 92369821 223
20063 46961691 030
20073 87272801 250
20083 71452631 52
20092 8775059860
20103 0516785940
20113 42254541 019
20122 9574958908
20133 2186470942
20143 3134449932
20153 17462 69867

The highest number of crashes was recorded in 2007 with 3872, resulting in 80 deaths and the highest number of injuries at 1250. Although there were a lot fewer accidents in 2010, these caused the highest number of fatalities over the 11 period at 85.

A report by U.S. News states that Kansas experienced an increase in traffic deaths of 22 percent in 2016 over the previous year, compared to a 6 percent rise across the nation. The Kansas Highway Patrol has attributed a large number of accidents to drivers using their cell phones while driving. Experts have also apportioned blame on lower gas prices and the improved economy, which leads to more traffic on the roads and highways.

Analysis of Crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported the top ten factors which caused large truck accidents. These included:

  • Malfunctioning brakes
  • Driver fatigue
  • Distraction and inadequate surveillance
  • Driving too fast in dangerous conditions
  • Inability to stop in time
  • Unfamiliarity with roadways and routes
  • Use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs

The FMCSA’s study largely blamed driver misjudgment and non-performance for most of the crashes. The reasons for non-performance included the driver falling asleep or being incapacitated by the onset of a heart attack or seizure.

Driver error could occur when misjudging the speed of other vehicles or following them too closely. Distraction and inattention could cause the failure of a driver to notice traffic situations developing. In other instances, drivers lost composure and over-compensated when confronted by a traffic problem or a problem with the vehicle.

The FMCSA, in a separate report, highlighted the dangers posed by hazardous freight. Heavy trucks carrying hazardous materials have released their loads after a collision. This study found that flammable liquids were spilled in 267 of 487 crashes where cargo was released.

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