Big Rig Accidents in Kentucky

Big Rig Accidents in Kentucky

Nationwide statistics collated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2015 showed that 86 percent of large trucks involved in fatal crashes were heavy rigs weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds. Large truck accidents in that year resulted in the deaths of 4,067 people across the United States and over 116,000 injured.

Big rigs pose a substantial danger to other roadway users because of their size and weight. The danger is compounded by the risk of vehicle malfunction, speeding or driver misjudgment.

Kentucky’s Crash Statistics

The following statistics were compiled by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and released annually in their Traffic Collision Fact Book:

YearTotal CollisionsHazardous CargoFatalitiesInjuries
20069 7091741162 592
20079 1761311152 301
20088 7821261162 170
20097 9021551161 882
20108 0361691041 929
20118 622148831 832
20127 442127761 732
20137 904134811 769
20148 664187731 805
20159 1961771002 032

All statistics show a downward trend from 2006 to 2012 which had the lowest number of truck collisions at 7442, resulting in 76 fatalities and 1732 injuries. After that, the statistics have climbed in the number of collisions, fatalities, and injuries.

The number of deaths in 2015 was 100 from 9196 collisions involving large trucks, the highest number since 2010. Injuries from truck accidents in that year also increased to 2032, the highest since 2008.

The Kentucky State Police also release regular reports of traffic statistics. Their report for 2016 shows the total fatalities in all accidents at 837, up from 761 in 2015. As of August 7, 2017, the State Police report 419 deaths, which is lower than the 458 at the same time in 2016.

Contributing Factors

In 2015, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reported the top five factors contributing to truck collisions as:

  • Tire failure
  • Shifting loads
  • Defective brakes
  • Overloaded vehicles
  • Defective tow hitches resulting in vehicle separation

During that year, these five factors caused collisions that resulted in seven deaths and 53 injuries.

A crash causation study carried out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported the three main events occurring during crashes:

  • Driving out of the travel lane or off the road
  • Loss of control of the vehicle through speeding, shift in cargo, tire or brake failure, and poor road conditions
  • Rear end collisions with another vehicle

Their study found that the main factors contributing to large truck accidents were:

  • Defective brakes
  • Speeding in unsafe roadway or weather conditions
  • Inadequate vigilance
  • Distraction and inattention
  • Driver fatigue
  • Drug use

Hazardous Freight

In 2015 in Kentucky, there were five fatal collisions involving trucks carrying hazardous materials, and 40 injuries were reported. The FMCSA reported on the results of another study into trucks hauling hazardous cargo. Their data shows that of the 3,709 cases they studied, 487 trucks released their cargo after collisions. Of these, 267 were carrying flammable liquids.

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