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Commercial Motor Vehicle Terms and Common Truck Accident Statistics

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Posted on April 1, 2014

In Florida and throughout the U.S., state roads, highways, and interstates are commonly populated by large commercial trucks, also known as semi-trucks or tractor trailers. A commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is defined as any large truck or vehicle with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 26,000 pounds or any bus designed to carry 16 or more passengers. Commercial motor vehicles require an active Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for lawful operation in any state.

Types of Commercial Trucks

Commercial trucks and commercial motor vehicles may include, but are not necessarily limited to, any of the following specific types of vehicles:

  • 18-wheelers (tractor trailers / semi-trucks / big rigs)
  • Car Haulers
  • Buses
  • Stake Trucks
  • Flatbeds/Straight Trucks
  • Cement Trucks
  • Box trucks/Parcel-Delivery Vans
  • Dump Trucks/Tandems
  • Special Equipment (cranes, earth movers, utility trucks)

Tractor trailers and other types of mobile heavy equipment can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. When any truck or other type of commercial motor vehicle is involved in a traffic accident with a smaller automobile, the damage done to the smaller vehicle and its occupants can be catastrophic or even deadly. Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for the safety of their equipment and their actions on the open road at all times.

Primary Causes of Trucking Accidents

There are a few common causes of truck accidents in the US. In addition to inspecting their equipment and negotiating challenging road conditions on a daily basis, truckers are among the groups of drivers most susceptible to driver fatigue, also referred to as “drowsy driving”. Studies have proven that driver fatigue is the number one cause of trucking accidents and truck accident fatalities in the US. Commercial truck accidents commonly result from any one or more of the following factors:

  • Driver Fatigue / Drowsy Driving
  • Driver Distraction (Cell phones)
  • Inexperienced or Improperly Trained Operators
  • Inadequate Equipment Maintenance / Lax Safety Inspections
  • Improperly Secured Cargo / Loads
  • Excessive Speed
  • Poor Road / Weather Conditions

10 Common Truck Accident Statistics

  1. Cognitive impairment after approximately 18 hours awake is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.05% – after being awake for 24 hours, a driver’s impairment is similar to a BAC of 0.10%, which is over the legal limit in all 50 states.
  2. Semi-trucks are involved in nearly 500,000 motor vehicle accidents each year.
  3. Approximately 20,000 accident-related injuries are officially linked to truck driver fatigue each year, but experts feel that many more cases go unreported or unconfirmed.
  4. On average, a trucking accident occurs at least every 16 minutes in the US
  5. A fully-loaded tractor trailer travelling at 55mph requires 300 ft. (length of a football field) to come to a complete stop.
  6. About 65% of fatal commercial truck accidents occur in the hours just after sunrise.
  7. Almost 70% of Americans surveyed strongly feel that automated data recorders on large trucks should be mandatory.
  8. The total number of accidents resulting in injuries for 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 60,000, 67,000, and 73,000, respectively.
  9. There were 4,018 fatalities and 112,000 total injuries in 2011 related to large truck and bus accidents.
  10. 2% of trucking accident fatalities are drivers/operators, 98% are occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists.


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety



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