Truck Accident Statistics in New York

Lever & Ecker, PLLC June 5, 2019 Car Accidents

Getting hit by a transfer-trailer truck may rank among many people’s worst nightmares, but it’s also something that most people suspect will never happen to them.  

Unfortunately, truck accidents occur more frequently than you might think, especially on New York’s commerce-heavy highways and interstates. 

While some of these accidents produce only minor damages, many are more serious. Given the size and weight of a fully-loaded semi, you can imagine how catastrophic the risk of any truck/car collision can be. Truck/motorcycle, truck/bicycle, and truck/pedestrian collisions can prove even more devastating. Indeed, many are fatal. 

Below, we share some of the latest truck accident statistics in New York. While preliminary data for 2018 (and the early months of 2019) are slowly beginning to roll in, our report here is based on the most recent complete year on record: 2017. 

Each of the numbers used in our report are obtained directly from the New York State Traffic Safety Statistical Repository (TSSR), as made available online by the New York Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR). 

The Latest Truck Accident Statistics in New York: Statewide, White Plains & NYC

To begin with, let’s look at the raw totals for truck accidents in the two cities where we focus much of our legal practice — New York City and White Plains — as well as the statewide totals for all of New York:

New York (Statewide) New York County (Home to New York City) Westchester County (Home to White Plains, NY)
Total Number of Large Truck Accidents 12,838 694 661
Number of Fatal Large Truck Accidents 93 6 4
Number of Non-Fatal Large Truck Accidents Causing Injury 4,096 265 191
Number of Large Truck / Pedestrian Crashes 199 (20 of them fatal, 176 causing injury) 28 (4 of them fatal, 24 others causing injury) 8 (2 of them fatal, 6 others causing injury)
Number of Large Truck / Bicycle Crashes 75 (5 of them fatal, 70 others causing injury) 27 (1 of them fatal, 26 others causing injury) 0
Number of Large Truck / Motorcycle Crashes 50 (8 of them fatal, 37 others causing injury) 5 (0 fatal, 4 of them causing injury) 1 (non-fatal but caused injury)

Now let’s turn our attention to some of the most startling observations from these truck accident statistics in New York:

  • Even though New York is home to 62 counties, more than 10% of the truck accidents in our state happen within just two counties alone: New York County and Westchester County. Similarly, more than 10% of New York’s fatal and injurious truck crashes happen in just these two counties. 
  • Statewide, every single truck/bicycle accident resulted in either injury or death. This sobering fact is a testament to just how vulnerable cyclists are in the face of truck driver negligence. 
  • In New York and Westchester Counties, every single truck/pedestrian accident resulted in either injury or death. Statewide, all but three truck/pedestrian accidents resulted in either injury or death. Here again, we see the grave risk that negligent truck drivers can pose to pedestrians. 
  • Statewide, all but five truck/motorcycle accidents resulted in either injury or death (as did nearly all the motorcycle-involved truck accidents in New York and Westchester Counties). Other studies have shown that in the majority of motorcycle accidents, it is not the biker who is at fault for the crash. 
  • In a single state within a single year, nearly 100 people lost their lives in large truck accidents. More than 4,000 were injured, many of them seriously.

Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in New York (Statewide)

Now let’s take a closer look at the truck accident statistics in New York from the previous section, breaking them down by cause of crash.

Below, we share the ten most common causes of truck accidents in New York, based on the statewide data from the year 2017:

Fatal Non-Fatal but Caused Injury No Injuries or Fatalities but Caused Property Damage Total
Improper Lane Changing / Passing 16 857 2,304 3,177
Distracted Driving  16 952 1,629 2,597
Following Too Closely 4 891 1,027 1,922
Environmental Factors / Road Conditions 6 414 1,229 1,649
Failure to Yield Right of Way 18 503 816 1,337
Vehicular Problems 6 337 812 1,155
Speeding 14 387 496 897
Backing Unsafely 0 81 731 812
Turning Improperly 2 136 561 699
Traffic Control Device Disregarded (e.g. running a red light) 8 198 288 494

Here are a few of the key takeaways from these truck accident statistics in New York:

  • Errors made when passing or changing lanes account for a greater number of truck accidents than any other type of negligence, claiming 16 lives and injuring nearly a thousand other New Yorkers during 2017 alone. Truck drivers must exercise abundant caution when merging or changing lanes, as their blind spots are much larger than in ordinary passenger cars, and because the trailer can swing independently from the tractor. Passing should be done sparingly and only when safe, with ample clearance and sufficient signaling to the surrounding traffic.
  • Distracted driving is the second most common cause of large truck accidents in New York. As with any other type of driver, texting has become a major source of concern among truck drivers in our country. 
  • The distracted driving truck accident statistics in New York (#2 above) represent the combined total of the following individually recorded instances of driver distraction: handheld cell phone use, hands-free cell phone use, texting while driving, use of on-board navigation devices, use of other electronic devices, passenger distractions, distractions outside the car, eating or drinking, and distracted driving in general.
  • While some of the environmental factors, road conditions, and vehicular problems included in #4 and #6 above were outside the truck driver’s control, other factors recorded are suggestive of negligence by the truck’s manufacturer and/or the carrier company that owns and operates the truck (e.g. vehicle defects, improper maintenance, etc.). Truck drivers generally have a duty to adapt their driving to the conditions at hand (e.g. inclement weather).
  • While they did not rank among the ten most common causes of truck accidents in New York, federal data tells us that other top causes nationwide include:
    • Truck driver illness, heart attack, disability, or loss of consciousness (responsible for 83 large truck accidents in New York during 2017)
    • The use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medications (responsible for 159 large truck accidents in New York during 2017)
    • The use of over-the-counter non-prescription medications (not included in TSSR’s truck accident statistics in New York)
    • Drowsy driving, driver fatigue, or driver falling asleep at the wheel (responsible for 168 large truck accidents in New York during 2017
  • Other common causes of New York truck accidents include: 
    • Aggressive driving / road rage (45 accidents)
    • Driver inexperience (223 accidents) 
    • Failure to keep right (238 accidents)
    • Pedestrian/bicyclist error or confusion (76 accidents)
    • Reaction to other uninvolved vehicles (401 accidents)
    • Another human (6 accidents)

Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with our Manhattan & White Plains Truck Accident Lawyers

While we believe it is important to regularly monitor the truck accident statistics in New York, if you or your family has suffered in one of these terrible accidents, we want you to know: you are not just a statistic.

Every truck accident injury represents real suffering, hardship, or loss. You shouldn’t have to bear those alone. If someone else’s carelessness contributed to your accident, you are entitled to financial compensation for your damages. Depending on the circumstances, you may have a claim against not only the truck driver but also their employer. 

Lever & Ecker, PLLC is a New York truck accident injury firm with years of experience in helping truck accident victims and their families claim the financial justice they deserve.

We will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we get you money. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, with no obligations whatsoever. 

Time limits do apply to New York truck accident claims, so please don’t delay. To get started, call (914) 288-9191 in White Plains, or simply contact us online.