29 Dec, 2023

Truck vs. Car Accident Statistics in Illinois

Author Todd A. Strong
Car after a collision with a heavy truck. Truck vs car accident statistics
Car after a collision with a heavy truck. Truck vs car accident statistics

Truck vs. Car Accident Statistics in Illinois

Nearly 300,000 motor vehicle crashes occur annually in Illinois alone. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 295,604 motor vehicle crashes were recorded in 2021. Out of these collisions, 12,040 involved tractor-trailers and 9,261 involved single-unit trucks, such as delivery trucks.

While truck accidents make up a fairly small percentage of all car accidents, a crash with a commercial vehicle can have severe or fatal consequences compared to a crash between two cars. This is because of the significant difference in vehicle size and weight. While cars may weigh around 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, full trucks may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Even smaller commercial vehicles, like box trucks, are still much larger than cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

Comparing Truck and Car Accident Statistics

Studies have found that cars are the cause of approximately 80% of all truck accidents. It has been reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that a majority of truck accidents, approximately 91%, are caused by cars. As per another study, in accidents involving both a truck and a passenger vehicle, 56% of the time it was the passenger car that was responsible, while the truck was responsible 44% of the time.

The research indicates that there are over 160,000 truck accidents that occur every year. Of these accidents, about 32% involve an injury, and around 3% of them result in a fatality.

The statistics on driver death rates per million registered vehicle years vary by vehicle type, with cars having the highest death rate of 48, followed by pickup trucks at 29, SUVs at 25, and minivans at 22.

Causes of Truck and Car Accidents

Car and truck accidents can have serious and expensive consequences for those involved. Even minor accidents can cause disruptions in your life by leading to missed work, physical and emotional stress, and other challenges that can impede your ability to lead a normal life.

To avoid becoming involved in a car or truck accident in Chicago, it is helpful to know the most common causes of such accidents. The top causes of car and truck wrecks to watch out for include distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving, tailgating, driving under the influence, driving while drowsy, driving in inclement weather, poorly maintained vehicles, traffic violations, and night driving.

Passenger vehicles often collide with large commercial trucks due to mistakes made by car drivers. This is often caused by a lack of understanding or consideration for a truck's speed, size, and braking ability.

It's important to be aware of unsafe behaviors that car drivers may exhibit when near large trucks. These include driving in areas where the truck driver's visibility is limited or nonexistent, suddenly changing lanes in front of a truck, driving on the right side of a truck that's turning right, underestimating a truck's speed and making a left turn in front of it, merging into traffic improperly, not adjusting speed when a truck is changing lanes, passing unsafely or without enough space, not anticipating air turbulence or cross-wind, pulling in front of a truck from the roadside without accelerating enough, driving between large trucks, leaving a vehicle in a travel lane, and not moving a disabled vehicle completely off the highway and onto the shoulder.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a Safety section with federal regulations for commercial truck drivers and other motorists.

Common Injuries From Truck and Car Accidents

Semi-trucks are considerably larger and heavier than any other vehicles on the road. In the event of a truck accident, the damage caused to other vehicles involved is often severe. Injuries resulting from truck accidents are generally more severe than those resulting from car-on-car wrecks. These injuries may include head and brain injuries, back and neck injuries - including spinal cord injuries and paralysis, lacerations, bruises, and broken bones, internal injuries, amputation, and disfigurement.

Severity of Injuries in Truck vs. Car Accidents

Recent statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have shown that in 2020, 4,014 people lost their lives in large truck accidents. Out of this number, 15% were truck occupants, while 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.

These auto safety statistics highlight the fact that truck accidents tend to cause more severe injuries to people traveling in cars than those in semi-trucks. Commercial trucks tend to pose a greater threat due to their increased size and weight, resulting in higher momentum during collisions. As a result, smaller vehicles and their occupants bear the brunt of the impact in truck accidents, often leading to catastrophic injuries.

How Can Vehicle Size Impact an Accident?

According to the latest driver death rates calculated by the IIHS, small cars and vehicles make up 15 out of the 20 models with the highest death rates. Large SUVs, on the other hand, tend to have the lowest overall death rate. The reason for this is that smaller vehicles offer less protection to the driver in the event of a crash, and their lighter mass means that they take the full force of collisions with larger vehicles.

If a car crashes into a truck, the car will experience a greater impact due to the fact that the larger vehicle will reduce speed at a slower rate than the smaller car. As a result, the larger vehicle will absorb more of the force during the collision.

Moreover, the car's crumple zone, which is the front area of the car built to collapse during a front-end collision, is much smaller than that of a longer trunk.

Therefore, The disadvantage of a car in comparison to a truck is that the distance between the point of collision and the passenger compartment is much shorter.

Truck accidents may lead to multi-car accidents because of the amount of space that they take up on the road. It may be helpful to understand whose insurance pays in a multi-car accident.

Why It’s Important for Accident Victims to Know Their Rights

After an accident, you may be looking to seek compensation. It is important to have a basic understanding of personal injury law, including proving negligence, establishing liability, calculating damages, and dealing with insurance companies. The process can be overwhelming, so having a good Chicago car accident lawyer can be helpful.

Types of Damages for Truck and Car Accidents

The main types of damages you may receive after a truck or car accident are economic damages and non-economic damages. If you have lost a loved one due to a truck accident, you may be able to seek wrongful death damages.

Economic damages, also known as special damages, must be proven to be recovered. These damages can be demonstrated through actual dollars and cents, and they are relatively easy to calculate in an insurance claim.

Common economic damages from a car or truck accident include:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Property Damage

Compensation for physical or emotional suffering is referred to as non-economic damages, or general damages. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages do not have a fixed dollar amount and are challenging to calculate and prove without legal assistance. They include subjective, non-monetary losses such as inconvenience, pain, emotional distress, and other similar damages. To determine the value of non-economic damages, lawyers use a complex formula along with economic damages.

In case of a truck accident leading to the death of a family member, some relatives have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages such as the deceased's lost wages and benefits, loss of companionship or care, medical expenses incurred by the deceased's last injury or illness, funeral and burial expenses, and other associated damages.

The amount of recoverable damages may depend on how much fault the various parties share, since Illinois is a comparative negligence state.

Statute of Limitations

In Illinois, you have a two-year window from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit for car and truck accidents. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to initiate your claim within this timeframe, you’ll forfeit your right to seek, as in other personal injury lawsuits, compensation for damages.

The clock may start ticking when the injury is discovered, or when it should have reasonably been discovered. Therefore, starting time typically begins from the date of the crash.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.