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Wisconsin Semi-Truck Accidents: How Many Accidents Are Caused By Them?

We’ve all experienced the rumble of a large tractor-trailer passing us on Interstate 43, I-94, or other highways around Milwaukee. We may imagine for a second the carnage of a semi-truck accident, with cab and trailer skidding out of control and slamming into other vehicles.

It happens a lot in Wisconsin. Wisconsin DOT statistics say there’s a large truck crash in the state more than 18 times a day on average.

Statistics also show that it’s the occupants of other vehicles who are typically injured or killed in most tractor-trailer accidents. Truckers are protected far better by large rigs than passenger car occupants are by their vehicles. Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians stand little chance of escaping injury or death in a truck accident.

If you were part of an accident, make sure to follow this truck accident checklist.


Numbers of Large Truck Accidents in Wisconsin

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a federal agency that works to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce the economic costs of traffic accidents through research, education and setting and enforcing safety standards. Its research includes collecting traffic accident statistics across the country.

Across the country, there were 4,761 people killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2017, a 9% increase from 2016, according to NHTSA’s Large Trucks Traffic Safety Facts. Seventy-two percent of people killed in large truck crashes in 2017 were occupants of other vehicles.

NHTSA says 76 large trucks involved in fatal car accidents in Wisconsin in 2017 represented 9.1% of all motor vehicles in accidents in the state.

In more recent NHTSA statistics for Wisconsin, the agency says 73 fatalities in Wisconsin in 2018 were caused by an accident involving a large truck. From 2014 through 2018, there was an average of 68.4 truck accident fatalities a year in Wisconsin, or one about every five days.

In a count of truck accident fatalities among Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Milwaukee County is among the lower third for the rate of truck fatalities per 100,000 population in 2018 (less than 2.19 per 100,000), according to NHTSA. Neighboring Racine County is in the middle third (2.19-6.15 fatalities per 100,000), with a rate of 2.54 per 100,000 population.

Among the most dangerous Wisconsin counties, according to the rate of truck accident fatalities per 100,000 population, are:

  • Jackson County (Black River Falls) with 24.42 fatalities per 100,000 population.
  • Florence County (Florence) with 23.14 fatalities per 100,000 population.
  • Iron County (Hurley) with 17.62 fatalities per 100,000 population.
  • Juneau County (Mauston) with 11.27 fatalities per 100,000 population.

Demographic data is often stated as “per 100,000 population” because multiplying the actual number by 100,000 allows a comparison of counties with large differences in populations.


Recent Semi-Trailer Accidents in Milwaukee

If you live in the Milwaukee area, you probably have heard about some recent truck accidents:

  • A tow truck and the semi-trailer it was pulling rolled over near Interstate 43 in New Berlin on October 3. The crash, which occurred at the north roundabout near Moorland Road and I-43/Beloit Road, resulted in minor injuries and hours of clean-up work, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • A semi headed southbound through the Mitchell Interchange struck a tow truck on the scene of a separate crash on August 26. The tow truck driver was hospitalized with serious injuries, according to Fox 6 news.
  • A semi rounding a curve on I-43 near North Avenue collided with a car, struck a light pole and burst into flames about 9 p.m. on July 14. A tire on the truck had blown out, a Fox 6 news report says. The semi driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?

Most motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver error. That includes truck drivers who cause accidents through their negligence or recklessness. The attorneys at Gruber Law investigate truck accidents on behalf of accident victims. The causes of truck accidents that we frequently find include:

  • Distracted driving. In addition to illegal use of cell phones or other electronics while behind the wheel of a semi-truck, truck drivers may be inattentive, bored from many hours of driving and daydreaming of somewhere else he or she would rather be.
  • Fatigued driving. Truck driving often requires long trips. Truckers who ignore requirements for rest breaks required by federal Hours of Service rules can become dangerously fatigued, which slows reaction times. A driver may fall asleep at the wheel. Sometimes trucking companies put pressure on drivers to keep the wheels rolling to make delivery deadlines, leading to fatigued driving accidents.
  • Speeding and other aggressive driving. Truckers hurrying to make a delivery or get ahead of bad weather or rush hour traffic may speed, tailgate, or drive too fast for traffic conditions.
  • Failure to look. Tractor trailers have large blind spots, making it easier for a truck driver to overlook a vehicle in an adjacent lane. This can lead to accidents involving improper lane changes. It is not excusable to make a move in traffic while driving a big rig without diligently looking to ensure it is safe.
  • Cargo shifts. If the cargo in a semi truck’s trailer is not properly secured, it can shift suddenly and change the truck’s center of gravity enough for the driver to lose control of the big rig. A cargo shift can cause a rollover accident. Tanker trucks that are not full are susceptible to tipping or rolling over due to shifting or sloshing cargo, if a driver rounds a curve too quickly.
  • Faulty maintenance. Many truck accidents happen because a truck’s brakes, tires, steering, trailer couplings or other parts or systems fail. Typically, this happens because the trucking company has cut corners to save money by putting off routine maintenance. Truck drivers are responsible for checking the condition of a tractor trailer before a trip.

Contact a Milwaukee Truck Accident Attorney Today

Contact a Milwaukee Truck Accident Attorney Today

The truck accident that left you or your loved one injured is the one that matters most to you, and it matters to us, too. Gruber Law Offices, LLC can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for injuries suffered in a semi-truck accident in Milwaukee or elsewhere in southeastern Wisconsin.

Contact Gruber Law Offices in Milwaukee for a free review of your case today. Our experienced truck accident lawyers conduct thorough investigations and negotiate aggressively to obtain maximum compensation for our clients. You only pay legal fees after we recover money for you. ONE CALL … THAT’S All.


Have you or a loved one been in an accident? Reach out to Gruber Law Offices for help.

Disclaimer: This post provides general information but is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.


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Gruber Law Offices is Wisconsin’s premier personal injury law firm. Our team consists of over 130 attorneys and professional staff who are passionate about helping those who have been injured.

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