Fatal Thursdays:

The Indiana Trucking Industry’s Most Deadly Day of the Week

Make no mistake: A serious accident involving a tractor trailer can occur at any time and on any day of the week. But an analysis of federal accident data does show that crashes involving 18 wheelers are more likely to occur on certain days of the week and at certain times of day.

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Tractor trailer crashes occur primarily
because of one of three reasons:

Driver Errors Driver Errors
Mechanical Failures Mechanical Failures (involving brakes, tire problems or other equipment failures)
Unsafe Road Conditions Unsafe Road Conditions

Driver errors are a leading contributor to crashes. Driver causes include many actions such as driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, distraction, fatigue, unfamiliarity with the roadway, making illegal maneuvers and illness. Many truck drivers violate hours-of-service rules and drive when dangerously fatigued.

Truck Image


Truck accidents occur more often on weekdays when a greater number of tractor trailers are moving freight according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System data. While the number of accidents involving automobile drivers and in particular intoxicated drivers goes up on Fridays and Saturdays, commercial truck drivers are less likely to be on the road on the weekends and are far less likely than other motorists to drive intoxicated because they stand to lose their commercial driver’s license.

Day of the Week Large truck crashes
Crashes Fatalities
Sunday 21 23
Monday 78 86
Tuesday 83 87
Wednesday 78 93
Thursday 101 137
Friday 84 93
Saturday 34 39

In 2015, accidents involving trucks were highest on Thursday, by which point in the week truck drivers may be fatigued from many hours behind the wheel and less alert to changes in traffic conditions around them. In every year since 2011 except for one, Thursday was the day with the highest number of large truck crashes in Indiana, according to the 2014 Indiana Crash Facts Book. Truckers may be pushing themselves to make extra miles to get home.

Crashes vs. Fatalities

The clear pattern that emerges from the data is a higher number of large truck crashes on week days than weekends. From 2011 to 2015, Sunday was the day with the lowest number of large trucks involved in crashes and fatal crashes, according to the 2014 Indiana Crash Facts Book. Truck accidents occur most often between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Truck accidents are least likely to occur from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. when fewer drivers are on the road.


More than half of fatal truck accidents occur on major roads other than interstates and highways. About a third occur on interstates and freeways. Major roads tend to have higher posted speed limits.

The 15 Indiana counties listed below had high fatality rates in crashes involving large trucks in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These counties’ rates of truck accident deaths per 100,000 population ranked in the upper third nationally.

Truck Accident Deaths Per 100,000 People, by County


There are patterns in when accidents involving large trucks are more likely to occur. But the fact is that a serious accident can occur any time a driver is distracted or fails to remain attuned to changes in traffic conditions. When sharing the road with large trucks, remember that big rigs have limited ability to maneuver, huge blind spots, and longer stopping distances. Try to stay out of trucks’ blind spots. If a truck driver is signaling a turn, give the truck extra room to swing wide and make the turn safely. Do not cut in front of a truck and force the truck to try to stop. It can take the length of a football field for a tractor trailer driving 65 miles per hour to stop.