The analysis, published in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, found that while trucks account for only 8 percent of miles driven on the roads, they're involved in 11 percent of crashes.
In fatal truck-related accidents, 72 percent of those killed were riding in a passenger vehicle, 17 percent were truck occupants and 11 percent were on bikes or pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which also says trucks involved in fatal crashes have an 80 percent chance of involving multiple vehicles, compared to 58 percent of passenger cars.
Even when trucks were not directly involved in accidents, their presence was enough to affect crash outcomes. A one percent increase in truck traffic volumes led to an increase in severe crashes, the study found. When traffic volume is low but truck presence is high, fatal crashes are more likely to occur due to their increased speed, according to the study.
Speed was identified as the most significant factor in determining whether there would be injuries in a crash with a truck, and the severity of those injuries escalated as speeds increased. Truck speeds above 45 miles per hour were shown to double the risk of a fatal crash. Above 65 mph, the risk for a fatal crash increased 255 percent. At least 19 percent of truckers involved in fatal crashes had previously been tickets of speeding.