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Truck Accident Deaths Spike in Oklahoma

Written by Steve Gursten Posted May 13th, 2016

2014 was a bad year for Oklahoma road deaths involving large truck crashes. It broke the state’s norms with 134 deaths – the second-highest rate since 2002.


Truck-related road deaths claimed one in every five of the lives lost on Oklahoma’s roads, or 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people. There were over 2,000 injuries in total automobile accidents in 2014.

It’s hard to explain the sudden spike in accidents. Huge numbers of trucks have been a common sight on Oklahoma roads for a long time, due to the various industries among the state. This has been consistent for many years, and most of them require large trucks for supply and delivery.


Large numbers of trucks on the road 

Oklahoma’s main focus is on agriculture, mining and manufacture.

  • Farmlands cover 75% of the state with the main focus on beef and wheat production
  • Oklahoma is one of the leading producers of petroleum, natural gas, and oil throughout the country

In manufacturing, there’s nothing small about what the state produces. Oklahoma produces large machinery for oil fields, construction and transportation (like tractors and automobiles), and has been heavily involved in the aviation and aerospace sector as of late.

Predictably, the number of deaths in large truck accidents primarily occur in high truck traffic areas. This has remained fairly constant over the past 13 years. There were two good years (2009 and 2010, after the 2008 economic crash) when fatalities dropped to the low 90’s, and in 2006, skyrocketed back up to 140. Overall, 1,500 people lost their lives in truck wrecks between 2002 and 2014. This is an average of 125 deaths per year, among top 5 in the nation.


Drivers, particularly those controlling heavy duty trucks, have their work cut out for them dealing with the nature of Oklahoma’s changeable weather, for the most part. Yet have to be alert to the dangers it can present.

The state is caught in the middle of the country. In a transition zone between different climatic systems, it is also the melting pot for three different air currents that move in from Canada; Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. As a result, weather patterns differ quickly, and temperatures can change drastically in a matter of hours.

Severe weather including thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail are also common. Oklahoma, most of which lies in Tornado Alley, experiences about 62 tornadoes a year, more than anywhere else in the world. These chaotic changes in weather are a concern for truck drivers.

Roads, Routes, and Responsibilities:

Rural roads are generally narrower, with fewer lanes. A lot of large trucks use them, and their weight over time damage road surfaces and worsen conditions.

There are other factors that impact truck accidents, including driver fatigue, frustration, and lack of focus; a tendency to speed in less well-policed areas; and the amount of rest stops available. With Oklahoma’s severe and erratic weather contributing as well, driving can prove hazardous.

The driver of a large truck has a harder time responding to outside factors, as a truck requires more breaking and turning space than an ordinary vehicle. The difficulties of driving a large truck are obvious, but the numbers in fatal crashes can be changed with correct driving techniques.

Dealing with the consequences

It’s hard to understand exactly what causes all these truck accidents, but it’s important to know that you need to be protected. If you’ve been in an injury, it’s important you consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to determine whether or not a claim can be filed for you.

Contact us today.

Image Via Pixabay.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.