Large trucks (those with gross vehicle weight ratings [GVWR] of more than 10,000 lbs) and buses are involved in significant numbers of fatal work zone crashes each year. Collectively, these vehicle types are referred to as commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). As Figure 1 illustrates, not only are CMV-involved fatal work zone crashes increasing year-by-year, their involvement as a percentage of all fatal work zone crashes is also increasing. For comparison purposes, CMV involvement in non-work zone fatal crashes has remained fairly constant over time at about 12-14 percent of all fatal crashes. As Figure 2 further illustrates, CMVs are involved in almost 30 percent of fatal work zone crashes on urban interstates and nearly 50 percent of fatal work zone crashes occurring on rural interstates. CMV involvement is also higher than overall trends in fatal work zone crashes on other principal arterials in rural areas.
State-by-state data on large truck and bus-involved fatal work zone crashes and fatalities can be found on the Clearinghouse Work Zone Fatal Crashes and Fatalities dashboard.
Figure 1. CMV-involved fatal work zone crashes and percent involvement in all fatal work zone crashes, 2012-2018 (source of data: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] Fatality Analysis Reporting System [FARS])
Figure 2. CMV involvement in fatal work zone crashes by facility type, 2012-2018 average (source of data: NHTSA FARS)
It is not clear from the available data whether the overrepresentation of CMV involvement in fatal work zone crashes is due to:
- more work zones on roadways with more CMVs,
- more CMVs traveling to and from the work zone to deliver and take away materials and equipment, or
- because work zones are more challenging for CMV drivers to negotiate.
In reality, all three possibilities may be partially responsible. Consequently, it will take efforts from federal agencies, state and local transportation and enforcement agencies, contractors, CMV fleet operators, CMV drivers, and motorists to help reverse these trends. This page provides links to available resources to help the various stakeholders with these efforts.
The Clearinghouse continues to seek out information on what agencies, contractors, fleet managers, and others are doing to reduce the risks of CMV-involved work zone crashes. If you have examples of plans, programs, or other efforts you have undertaken to reduce the risks of these crashes in work zones, please consider joining the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety in Work Zones Listserv and sharing those so that they can be added to the existing list of available resources.