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Wyoming ranked 2nd most dangerous state for truck accident fatalities

Written by Steve Gursten Posted March 1st, 2016

Wyoming averaged 4 truck crashes per day in 2014, injuring 467 people & killing 34- an increase of 36% from 2013

Wyoming truck accidents, image

In original research by our Truck Roundtable attorneys, Wyoming ranked as the 2nd most dangerous state in terms of fatal truck accidents per capita. The 2014 fatality rate equaled .0048% – or 4.8 fatal truck accidents per 100,000 residents.

That’s four times higher than the national average of .012%.

This is a new and original method for analyzing truck crash data (see sourcing below), as previous research ignored deaths, or focused on total truck accidents, skewing the data toward large states with many trucks.

Wyoming truck accident statistics

Wyoming averaged four truck crashes per day in 2014. The state’s 1,586 truck accidents injured 467 people, and 27 of those crashes were fatal, claiming 34 lives. This truck death toll is up 36% from 2013. Below are some reasons for the increase in accidents and deaths:

Coal takes over from cattle

There have been more trucks on Wyoming roads since the state transitioned from farming to mining. Mining uses large numbers of trucks to transport supplies, machinery and product, and the state’s truck accident death toll has always been fairly high compared to other areas of the U.S. as a result.

Wyoming now has three of the world’s biggest coal mines and six of the top 10 in the US. There are also mining operations for trona, soda ash and uranium.

Oil and gas enters the arena

Oil and gas entered the picture in the last few years and the productive Powder River Basin now also includes huge oil and gas mining operations. Daily truck activity has soared, particularly while new wells are being established. With more trucks and more truck activity comes a greater risk of even more people dying in truck accidents.

Driving dangers on Wyoming’s roads

Most vehicle crashes, and 121 of the 150 vehicle deaths in Wyoming in 2014, occurred on rural roads and most accidents involved vehicles going off the road.

The roads themselves are not the issue. Most of the roads where people were killed were paved, with only eight fatal crashes on unpaved surfaces. Where trucks were involved, the most deaths were on interstate or primary roads.

Instead, it seems that driving conditions in Wyoming may be the problem. The state ranks 10th in size, but has the smallest population (584,153) of any U.S. state. There are miles and miles of road through nowhere.

Highway 287 is an example. It’s a major link between Wyoming and other states, and it’s also on the list of Most Dangerous Roads in the U.S., because of the number of accidents. Since the population is sparse, there are few rest stops for tired drivers, especially fatigued truckers.

It could be tempting to speed through these isolated areas, as there’s less police presence. More than half the heavy trucks involved in fatal crashes in Wyoming in 2014 were traveling at over 50 mph and more than a quarter were driving at over 65 mph.

Wyoming winters can be tough on drivers

Wyoming has cold winters with heavy snow falls and strong winds. Roads become slippery and blizzards make it hard for drivers to see. Unless drivers are alert, they risk difficulty braking; sliding off the road; or in some areas, dealing with rock falls.

Dealing with the consequences

The trauma of truck crashes, and learning to deal with their consequences is hard enough even if no-one’s to blame, but if another driver is at fault, there might be grounds for a claim. Consulting an experienced team of attorneys like the Truck Accident Attorney Roundtable is the best way to learn if you have a case. We are here to answer your questions during a free consultation.


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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.
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