Trucking Industry Getting Squeezed by Claims

More trucks on the road can increase the frequency of accidents, including fatalities. Controlling losses continues to be a challenge for the trucking industry as the sector struggles to hire qualified drivers and balance rising operational costs. Read more about what’s happening in the trucking industry and the unique risks facing insureds.


Commercial trucking is a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, and it has seen slow but steady growth over the last five years.4 In 2022, trucking accounted for 72.6% (11.46 billion tons) of American freight movement and $940.8 billion in revenue.1

There are more trucks on the road than ever before, and the frequency of accidents has also risen, including fatalities. In 2021, there were 5,788 deaths involving truck accidents on U.S. roads, compared to 4,945 in 2020 (an increase of 17%).2 According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fatal large truck crashes have increased steadily since 2008.3 Despite advances in technology and tightening regulations, the number of people who died in large truck crashes in 2021 was 50% higher than 2009. This closely parallels Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth over the same period.6

OF THE 4,014 DEATHS INVOLVING A TRUCK IN 2020, 68% Were Occupants of Cars + Other Passenger Vehicles 15% Were Truck Occupants 16% Were Pedestrians, Bicyclists, or Motorcyclists.7

The FMCSA reports that the average cost of a commercial truck accident in which one person is injured is $148,279. However, this number skyrockets to $7.2 million when there is a fatality. The numbers grow exponentially if multiple people are injured.16 In addition, it should be noted these numbers don’t account for the rising cost of truck repairs and liability claims. Both experienced and new drivers report wanting “all the bells and whistles” offered by new equipment. The improved comfort and safety features of also means a heftier price tag. Many of the older $50,000 trucks have been replaced with new $150,000 units which drives up the cost of an accident. All variables considered, it’s no surprise that the cost of an accident could quickly exceed $100,000.

The greater severity of truck accidents compared to passenger vehicle accidents is also due in part to the weight discrepancy between trucks and passenger cars. Tractor trailer units can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars.7 They’re also taller with greater ground clearance which can result in a shorter vehicle under-riding a truck in an accident. Rear-end crashes are also a larger risk. A loaded tractor-trailer takes 20% to 40% more distance to stop than a passenger car.7 This distance increases on slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.


Controlling losses remains challenging for the trucking industry. Driver fatigue is likely a key issue. Commercial truck drivers are limited by federal regulations to 11 hours of driving per day. The 60/70 hour rule also limits how many hours they can drive per 7 or 8 day period, respectively. However, surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulation and work longer than permitted.7 In December 2017, the FMCSA tried to solve this by requiring trucks to have Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) that accurately track and manage a vehicle’s hourly records. The ELD device is designed to automatically record driving time, enabling motor carriers to better comply with federal limits for safe driving. Around the same time, the American Automobile Association Foundation (AAA Foundation) and the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (the Trucking Alliance) joined forces to adopt the AAA Foundation’s new Truck Safety Recommendations. These included various warning, monitoring, and braking systems that could prevent crashes and save lives.


An Indiana trucking company was hit with a $26.5 million jury award in 2019 after an Oregon jury found that the driver had been driving aggressively on U.S. Highway 20, causing a fatal crash that killed one and severely injured another.14 In 2019, a jury required a trucking company to pay $27 million in damages to the family of an Idaho woman killed in 2016 when she was hit head-on by a semi as she came around a bend.9  A Louisiana jury awarded $16 million to the family of an 89-year-old man in September 2021 after he was killed in a 2020 wreck with an 18-wheeler. The jury found that the truck driver and trucking company were 80% at fault after the driver made a U-turn into the path of the man’s vehicle.10

A Connecticut jury awarded $15 million to a Pennsylvania man in May 2019 after he was rear- ended by an 80,000-lb semi in 2014. News reports indicated the semi-truck driver didn’t realize traffic was stopped until it was too late. He swerved to avoid a collision but slammed into the back of the man’s car.9. A Texas jury awarded $5 million in actual damages and $75 million in punitive damages in May 2019 to a truck driver who said the company he worked for forced him to alter his logbook and exceed federal hours of service rules in 2015. The driver fell asleep behind the wheel and was severely injured when he plowed into another tractor- trailer.9 In October 2021, a California jury awarded $7.619 million to the family of a man who died from injuries sustained in a collision between his pickup truck and a tractor-trailer that had stopped in the middle of a Washington state roadway while attempting to make an unsafe left turn.15


The trucking industry increased safety investment from $9.8 to $14 billion from 2014 to 2022, but accidents remain a top concern.1

The average truck driver is 49 years old.8 As the average age of drivers increases, trucking companies are struggling to attract new drivers, leading some companies to ease their hiring requirements to entice new employees – including dropping commercial driving experience requirements down to as little as 1-year or less. According to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry was short 80,000 drivers in 2021, a record deficit that could reach 160,000 by 2030. As older drivers retire, 1 million new drivers will be needed over the next decade to keep pace with economic growth.5

Anecdotally, the chronic driver shortage is considered a leading cause of the general erosion of driver safety, but many carriers don’t have the level of claim detail built into their claims systems needed to actuarially confirm that the age and experience of drivers makes a meaningful difference. However, numerous insurers are now asking deeper questions around driver experience and training. Many trucking firms are also beginning to invest in better training for new and existing drivers around safety technology, recognizing that adequate training can make a difference.

CRC Group has the proprietary data technology to analyze what’s happening in the trucking industry and help retail agents weigh the unique risks facing insureds. Contact your CRC Group producer to learn more about how we can help your trucking industry clients.


  1. Economics & Industry Data, American Trucking Associations.
  2. Truck Accident Statistics for 2024. Forbes. September 18, 2023.
  3. Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2021, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  4. Long-Distance Freight Trucking in the US - Market Size, Industry Analysis, Trends and Forecasts (2024-2029), IBIS World, October, 2023.
  5. Why Driving Big Rig Trucks is a Job Fewer Americans Dream About Doing, CNBC, July 5, 2022.
  6. Gross domestic product of the United States from 1990 to 2022, Statista, November 3, 2023.
  7. Fatality Facts 2021: Large Trucks, IIHS
  8. The Ultimate List of Driving Statistics for 2023,
  9. Truck Accident Lawsuits, Consumer Notice.
  10. Jury Awards Millions in Deadly Semi Wreck, The Trucker, September 29, 2021.
  11. Lawsuit over semitruck crash reveals issue of truck driver working 2 months without day off, KSAT, July 19, 2023.
  12. Cook County Jury Awards 43.5 Million Dollars to Nurse in Truck Accident Lawsuit, Law Firm News Wire, August 27, 2021.
  13. Harris County Jury Returns $30 Million Verdict Against FedEx Freight in Deadly Crash Case, KPRC2, October 21, 2021.
  14. $26.5 Million ‘Nuclear Verdict’ Stands in Fatal Oregon Road-rage Crash, FreightWaves, May 22, 2020.
  15. $7.619 Million Verdict Handed Down By Los Angeles Jury In Wrongful Death, Tractor Trailer Accident Lawsuit, Yahoo, October 12, 2021.
  16. 4 Ways GPS Tracking Cameras can Reduce the High Cost of a Truck Accident, HDFleet, November 15, 2018.