Why Missouri Truck Accidents Are So Dangerous

While Missouri truck accident totals are low compared to the number of car accidents in the state, crashes involving commercial tractor-trailers are significantly more deadly. 

Data from the Missouri Department of Transportation indicate that in 2022, truck accident fatalities accounted for 15% of all traffic deaths in the state. This leaves many to wonder: why do these accidents occur, and what makes them so deadly?


Some common causes of Missouri truck accidents include:

Driver Fatigue

Long hours on the road without adequate rest can lead to decreased alertness and reaction time, much like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Federal regulations like the Hours of Service (HOS) rules are in place to combat this, but they are not always strictly followed.

Poorly Maintained Equipment

Regular maintenance of trucks is crucial for safe operation. However, some trucking companies or independent operators may neglect proper upkeep due to cost or time constraints. This negligence can lead to equipment failures such as brake malfunctions, tire blowouts, steering issues, or other problems.

Oversize or Overweight Loads

Trucks carrying loads that exceed legal size and weight limits pose a serious risk. Oversized or overweight loads can affect the vehicle’s stability and maneuverability, making it difficult to control, especially in emergency situations.


Speeding is a common issue in all vehicle accidents, and it’s particularly dangerous for trucks due to their size and weight. Higher speeds reduce the driver’s ability to react in time to avoid a collision, and the impact of a truck accident at high speed is typically more severe due to the greater force of impact.

Reckless Driving

This includes aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, improper lane changes, failure to yield right-of-way, and disregarding traffic signals. Truck drivers may engage in reckless driving due to tight schedules or out of frustration from long hours. This behavior not only endangers the truck driver but also others on the road.

In addition to these causes, there are other factors like distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and poor road or weather conditions that contribute to the risk of truck accidents.


Truck accidents are often deadlier than other vehicle collisions due to simple physics. Here are some factors that make devastating accidents more likely when trucks are involved:

Size and Weight

Commercial semi-trucks or 18-wheelers are significantly larger and heavier than typical passenger vehicles. Fully loaded semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs around 4,100 pounds. This disparity means that when a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, the impact is disproportionately absorbed by the smaller vehicle.

Braking Distance

Due to their considerable mass, trucks require a much longer distance to come to a complete stop compared to smaller vehicles. If a truck driver fails to anticipate a stop or encounters an unexpected obstacle on the road, the chances of avoiding a collision are much lower.

Blind Spots

Trucks have larger blind spots (also known as “No-Zones”) than regular vehicles. If a vehicle is in a truck’s blind spot when the truck makes a turn or changes lanes, it can lead to catastrophic collisions.


Trucks are less maneuverable than smaller vehicles. Their large size and length make it difficult to execute quick maneuvers, which can lead to accidents if the flow of traffic suddenly changes, especially on highways or in busy urban areas.

Cargo-Related Issues

Trucks with too much cargo or cargo that shifts during transit can suddenly become unbalanced and more prone to rollovers. Additionally, spilled cargo can create hazards on the roadway, leading to multi-vehicle collisions.

Secondary Accidents

Truck accidents often don’t end with the initial collision. The size and cargo of a truck can lead to secondary accidents, such as pile-ups or hazardous material spills, which can further increase the severity and deadliness of the incident.

Understanding these factors highlights the importance of exercising caution when driving near trucks. You should always stay out of a truck’s blind spots, maintain a safe distance, watch for wide turns, avoid speeding and sudden moves, and indicate your intentions to nearby truck drivers by using your turn signals.


If a truck accident does occur, the resultant injuries are often particularly catastrophic, again due to the sheer size and weight of trucks compared to passenger vehicles.

Occupants of smaller vehicles face a higher risk of serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, fractures, and internal injuries. Victims also often suffer psychological impacts, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. The recovery process can be lengthy and challenging, impacting not only the victims but also their families.


If you or a loved one were involved in a Missouri truck accident, know that help is available. Our team of St. Louis truck accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley can answer legal questions regarding your crash—anytime, day or night. Call us today for a free consultation about your case at (314) 499-1190

Originally published January 6, 2015. Updated December 19, 2023.