Large Trucks Account for Third of Fatal Crashes in Work Zones

5-minute read

The latest statistics on truck crashes in work zones are in and they’re not good.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 842 people died in highway work-zone crashes in 2019, up from 757 the previous year. In addition, 33% of fatal crashes involved a commercial motor vehicle. Worst yet, there was a 16% increase in the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks compared to 2018.

All of these figures are even more troubling in light of the fact that large trucks make up just 5% of vehicular traffic,

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said a number of factors contributed to the rise in fatal work-zone crashes, including:

  • Rear-end collisions. These incidents increased by 29% from 2018 to 2019.
  • Speeding incidents. Such incidents increased by 40% from 2018 to 2019.

Needless to say, none of this is welcome news, especially at a time when insurance premiums for trucking companies has been on the rise.

Indeed, the “hardening” of the market for trucker’s insurance has shown little sign of letting up. While this may not be the case for companies or operators with good safety records and few losses, a questionable safety record or inordinate number of claims will make it very hard to find affordable insurance.

Reducing Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, as we all know, is a major culprit. That’s why the American Trucking Association is now backing recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation intended to help states reduce distracted driving.

In a letter dated March 26, ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath called the Safe to Drive Act (S. 195 and H.R. 762) “a tremendous opportunity to focus greater resources and attention to accidents that our professional drivers cannot easily anticipate: those caused by distracted passenger motorists.”

The legislation would drive dollars to states that pass legislation banning driver use of mobile devices. The money would be used to enforce such laws and for distracted-driving education programs.

“In commercial trucking, we require drivers to keep their eyes on the road ahead at all times – and we should expect the same vigilance of every motorist on the road,” Horvath wrote. “Sadly, convenient access to social media and streaming services has only increased the number of potential road hazards, leading to increases in the quantity and severity of distracted driving incidents.”

By everyone, of course.

DOT Tips

As any trucker will attest, it can be more than tricky to avoid a chain-reaction accident while at the wheel of a semi. It’s not rocket science, but here are some tips from the Department of Transportation to help your drivers be more aware of what to do when sharing the road while in congested work zones: 

  • Dedicate your full attention to the roadway.
  • Beyond leaving mobile devices alone, avoid changing the radio station, eating, or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road.
  • Even during the day, congested traffic can make it hard to see, so keep your headlights on.
  • Pay attention to the road. Listen to the “signs.” Watch brake lights on vehicles ahead and be prepared to react.
  • Merge well before you reach the lane closure.
  • Be aware that traffic patterns can change daily.
  • Don’t tailgate; follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
  • Obey the posted speed limit and be prepared to slow down further if conditions indicate the need.
  • Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit.
  • Be patient. Patience and vigilance can be the difference between making it safely through work zones and not making it home at all.

If you’d like to hear more about how we can help improve your safety record, just reach out to us. We’re happy to help!

The Mahoney Group, based in Mesa, Ariz., is one of the largest independent insurance and employee benefits brokerages in the nation. Contact us at or 480-730-4920.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

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