Big Rig Accidents in Pennsylvania

Big Rig Accidents in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a large network of roadways that includes more than 120,000 miles of highways and roads. One-third of roads in Pennsylvania are state highways and are maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, PennDOT. The rest of Pennsylvania roads are maintained by cities and other municipalities. PennDOT tracks data from accidents across the state and publishes an annual safety report. In 2015, the most recent data available, a total of 127,127 traffic crashes were reported statewide with 1,200 fatalities and 80,004 injuries.

Big Rig Fatalities

Out of 1,200 total roadway deaths in 2015, 149 were related to big rig accidents. The number of those killed in collisions with heavy trucks was down slightly from 2014. The following is an overview of fatalities over the last five years.

YearLarge Truck Deaths
2012 159

The total number of crashes in 2015 increased 4.8% over 2014 and deaths went up by 0.4%. There was also an overall increase in injuries by 2.8%.

Additional Data

Large trucks were involved in 7,465 collisions in 2015. Of the deaths reported, 27 occurred to truck occupants including the driver and passengers. Weather conditions played a relatively minor part in fatal injuries on roadways. 72% of fatal crashes accounted for 946 deaths happened on dry pavement. 15%, 169 deaths were on wet roadways. Snow or ice accounted for 11.7% or 74 deaths. The remaining numbers were not categorized.

The largest number of collisions was reported in January and the fewest in April. The most accidents occurred on Friday while the majority of roadway fatalities actually happened on Sunday. Many occurred between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm. Although more accidents occur during daylight hours, more fatalities happen in nighttime crashes.

Contributing Factors to Fatal Crashes

Driver errors are common contributing factors to deadly incidents on the road. The top driver errors that caused or contributed to fatal crashes in 2015 included:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Improper turns
  • Alcohol related
  • Failure to yield
  • Tailgating
  • Illegal passing
  • Drowsy driving

These factors are determined by law enforcement at the time of the incident. It is important to note that there may be up to 3 contributing factors noted per driver.

The number of semi-truck crashes was the highest in 2015 since 2011. Some of the accidents were caused by vehicle defects. Reported accidents due to defects include:

  • 108 Tire or wheel related
  • 85 Brakes
  • 37 Unsecured load
  • 25 Power train failure
  • 22 Steering failure
  • 8 Trailer hitch
  • 6 Suspension
  • 2 Lighting
  • 10 Other

Mechanical failures do play a role in semi-truck road safety. Trucks are required to be inspected for safety on a regular basis.

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