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What data tells us

  • A medium truck has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds. A heavy truck has a GVWR of at least 26,001 pounds. NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis defines large trucks as vehicles with a GVWR over 10,001 pounds.
  • In 2013, there were 3,964 people killed and an estimated 95,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. An estimated 342,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported traffic crashes during 2013.
  • Of the people killed in crashes involving large trucks, 71 percent were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash. Of the people injured in crashes involving large trucks, 72 percent were occupants of other vehicles.
  • In 2013, large trucks accounted for 4 percent of all registered vehicles and 9 percent of total vehicle miles traveled on the Nation's roadways. Large trucks accounted for 9 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of all vehicles in injury and property-damage-only crashes.
  • In 2013, 64 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas. Seventy-four percent of fatal large-truck crashes occurred on weekdays. Of those weekday crashes, almost three-fourths (73%) occurred between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Two percent of large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 g/dL or higher in 2013. By comparison, for drivers of other types of vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2013, the percentages of drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher were 23 percent for passenger cars, 21 percent for light trucks, and 27 percent for motorcycles.
  • For 76 percent of large trucks in all police-reported crashes, the most harmful event for the truck in the crash was a collision with another motor vehicle.

Heavy Vehicle Electronic
Stability Control

In June 2015, NHTSA issued a new standard to require Electronic Stability Control (ESC) for truck tractors and large buses. ESC systems on these heavy vehicles are similar to light vehicles, which help a driver maintain directional control of a vehicle but also add roll stability control technology. These ESC systems will significantly reduce the number of heavy-vehicle rollover and loss-of-control crashes. NHTSA estimates that heavy vehicle ESC systems may prevent up to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-directional-control crashes. The heavy vehicle ESC rule:

  • Applies to heavy trucks and large buses with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds;
  • Emphasizes that ESC systems are driver assistance systems. The ESC system helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle by automatically braking individual wheels and reducing engine torque;
  • Is estimated to prevent as many as 1,759 crashes and save 49 lives each year, once all vehicles are equipped with the technology; and
  • Becomes effective for most large trucks on August 1, 2017, and most large buses on June 24, 2018.

Heavy Vehicle Stopping Distance

Effective August 1, 2011, NHTSA requires new truck tractors to meet a more stringent stopping distance performance requirement to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries associated with crashes involving tractor trailer combinations and combination vehicles. The Stopping Distance rule:

  • Specifies a 30-percent reduction in stopping distance compared to the previous requirement; Requires new truck tractors to stop within 250 feet from a speed of 60 mph when fully loaded; and
  • Is expected to save 227 lives and prevent 300 serious injuries every year when all truck tractors are equipped with the enhanced braking systems.