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California Truck Accident Statistics


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.35 million people around the globe are killed in accidents involving trucks, cars, and other motor vehicles every single year. And for United States citizens—both at home and abroad—the CDC cites traffic accidents as the No. 1 leading cause of non-natural death.

Although all motor vehicle accidents can have serious consequences, truck accidents carry a uniquely high risk of fatal injury.

Truck Accident Trends in California

A total of 367 California residents were killed in truck crashes in 2017, the last year for which statewide data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is available. That same year, 9,710 state residents were injured in truck crashes.

Data from the CHP also showed:

  • From 2013 to 2017, the number of persons killed in truck collisions increased by a little over 32%.
  • Truck crash injuries increased by nearly 30% during this same four-year period.
  • In 2017, truck crashes accounted for 3.6% of all crashes that resulted in injury or death; this marked a 0.3% increase from 2013. This occurred despite the fact that there are fewer trucks on the road than there are passenger vehicles.
  • Los Angeles County saw the highest number of deaths from truck crashes in 2017, with Riverside and San Bernardino close behind.

California’s truck accident statistics are disheartening, and unfortunately they reflect a much larger problem.

California Trends Are Part of a Larger, Nationwide Problem

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported a total of 4,119 deaths in large truck crashes in 2019, the last year for which data is available. This number is 31% higher than it was just 10 years ago, when it was at its lowest. And the number of truck occupants who died in 2019 was 51% higher than in 2009.

FARS data for 2019 also showed that:

  • 67% of the deaths were occupants of passenger vehicles;
  • 16% percent of the deaths were truck occupants; and
  • 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.

Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?

So why are truck crashes so much more dangerous than the average car crash? A lot of it has to do with size: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the average large truck weighs between 20 and 30 times as much as the average passenger car. And as we can tell just by looking, large trucks are a whole lot taller.

This size difference leaves occupants of passenger vehicles extremely vulnerable in the event of a crash, especially if the vehicle slides under the large truck. In this condition known as “underride,” the bottom of the truck may shear off the top of the car and decapitate those inside. Truck collisions can still be fatal when underride does not occur, such as if the truck T-bones or rear-ends a passenger vehicle.

Crashes involving motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians can be even more dangerous; these parties have even less protection than a passenger vehicle occupant. Again, size is to blame.

It’s important to recognize that accidents involving only large trucks can still have devastating results. Even an accident involving just one truck – such as if a tip-over on a turn – can prove fatal for the truck driver. The problem is only exacerbated when hazardous cargo is involved.

Los Angeles Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck collision, reach out to our team at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. Our Los Angeles trial lawyers care deeply about protecting the rights of truck crash victims. We know how to fight back against negligent truckers, trucking companies, and their insurance companies—we have done it for years. We’ll work to maximize your compensation.

Call (866) 634-4525 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.